RIP Lonnie Lee Dockery 1952 – 2016

RIP Lonnie Lee Dockery 1952 - 2016
Hiding from a rain storm in Cataloochee – Lonnie and Chitter – I’m positive there was some serious joking going on between the two of them

The Deer Hunter and I were newlyweds when we first met Lonnie. Right from the start he and I hit off. If you were lucky enough to know Lonnie, you’d know he never met a stranger nor did he ever meet anyone he didn’t try to help in some way, shape, or form. Now the person he was helping might have had to endure some massive teasing along the way, but that was just Lonnie’s way of making sure life was fun.

It was a few years after I first met Lonnie that I ran into him at the JCCFS’s annual fall festival. I was going one way on the crowded trail and he was going the other. Lonnie yelled “Hey I found out I’m related to you!” I hollered back “Well good! You can tell me later.” And he did.

Over the years Lonnie and I shared many genealogy talks and many talks about our shared love for our heritage and culture that we could see quickly disappearing.

Lonnie was raised not to far from here in the same sort of home Pap was, I believe that’s one of the reasons our friendship became solid from the beginning-we had much in common.

From the first day I started writing at the Blind Pig and The Acorn Lonnie was along for the ride. When I posted something he thought somebody ought to read he sent it to them and told them to read it! Whenever there was a way to support my endeavor of celebrating and preserving our shared Appalachian heritage he was right there ready to do whatever I needed.

Lonnie retired from the Marines, from the National Guard, and from the NC College System. He will be greatly missed by many in our area of southern Appalachia and beyond. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones who are grieving over his sudden passing.

In the funny way of life, I had Lonnie on my mind the morning before he passed away. It was those stacked rocks. Every time I write something about the Pine Log area I know Lonnie will be interested in reading it.

Early this morning I went through the comments he’s left on the Blind Pig over the years. I’ll leave you with one of them.

“Seeing these mountains in the distance is always the best part of any trip.”

~Lonnie Dockery




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  • Reply
    Susan Bogart
    March 12, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Lonnie was one of the best I have ever known and a gift to all who knew him. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have had him in our lives for whatever reason and for whatever amount of time will always be grateful. He made us better. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
    Susan Bogart

  • Reply
    Amber Cardenas
    March 9, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I loved reading this article and seeing all the wonderful comments people made. Lonnie was my uncle and he was such an amazing man. I joined the Army when I was 18 years old and it is easy to fall out of touch with friends and family when you are so far away. Lonnie did not let this happen. He came to visit me in Florida and Colorado. He kept in touch through mail, email, and Facebook. I also knew anytime I came home his smiling face was one I could count on seeing. My children was drawn to him instantly (like many other individuals) and they thought the world of him. My son gave him the nickname of “Uncle Grandpa” which Lonnie wore with pride. I can say anyone who met Lonnie is a better person because of it.

    • Reply
      Leesa Dockery
      December 1, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      Amber I loved this. He so enjoyed visiting with you. He would message me all about it while he was there. He loved all of you. He was such a wonderful person who was so loved by us all.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    From everything I’ve read, Lonnie will always be with each of you in your hearts and in your absorption and expression of all things Appalachian – you are indeed blessed.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Seems the Good Ones die way to early.. So sorry to hear the losing of a friend, and to the family that has to try to carry on with out him.. Our prayers for those who knew him will be offered up..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 5, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Lonnie Dockery was one of the best friends I never got to meet. We only talked via email but I am sure we will pick up the conversation man to man in a few days.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    March 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Sincere condolences. I hope he can still see glimpses of those mountains, even way up in heaven where he’s sure to be right now.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    March 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend. It sounds like he had many and I’m sure he will be missed.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    March 5, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I’m sure he will be missed by many.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 5, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Lonnie Lee Dockery. He was born the same year as my son, Keith. I, too, enjoyed his comments on Blind Pig.
    And speaking of Blind Pig, I’ve missed receiving it for a week or more now, and have had to go online to access it. That has been OK, except I couldn’t find a way to comment by that means of access. And then, late today, I found it (as it usually is) on my today’s e-mail Maybe the problem has been resolved. I hope so.
    My condolences to all those who knew Lonnie Lee Dockery as family member or as a friend.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    It is tough to lose a special friend who has added so much to your life. From reading your post today, I know that you have many special memories of him during your lifetime of friendship. Sorry for your loss.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    March 5, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Sorry, Tipper and family for the loss of your earthly friend who shared so much with you while he was here. I did not know him. Blessings to you and your family. Some one once said, ” Old Indians don’t die they just fade away.” I hope that is true for “White folks” and any other color.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lonnie and his family during this difficult time. I knew what a special person he was just by reading his comments on the BP. I would have loved to have met him.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    March 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    So sorry for the loss of your friend. Sound like a wonderful friend gone too soon.
    Carol Rosenbalm

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 5, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about our Friend, Lonnie. It was thru you that I had the privilege to become friends with Lonnie. I pray for the family in this Hour of Need.
    Back when I decided to have a Garden Party here at the shop, you told me about Lonnie and asked if he could come, that I would like him. I’m glad I listened! Lonnie and I became friends and e-mailed each other alot. At many of your family’s Concerts, Lonnie would always be there to show his support and love for you.
    He could have talked for a long time, but one time he told me is that we were both related to President Obama, something like
    3rd cousins twice removed. I’m still shocked! But Lonnie is in a
    Better Place now, and he will be Missed……Ken

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    There’s a ‘Lonnie’ in everyone’s life; the instant humor for every occasion, the ready smile, the camaradrie; they leave a great void in our lives when theirs ends.
    Lonnie, I didn’t know you, but I wish you a ready audience in Heaven for your wit and your smile…

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Sending prayers of comfort and support to you in the loss of such a dear friend. He sounds like a real gem. He now is soaring on eagle’s wings and looking down on his beloved mountains.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 5, 2016 at 10:17 am

    When I met Lonnie, his handshake, warm smile and kind words was all I needed to tell me that he was my kind of folks…likened to a loving, caring, long lost Uncle! “My people”, as many have spoken before.
    I mourn The Blind Pigs loss and your privilege of knowing him these many years. I mourn his family’s
    sudden loss. I mourn for the loss of his contributions and his meaningful knowledge of our Appalachian heritage. We all will miss him.
    Thank you Lonnie! Rest high on your mountain! I am sure you will hear, “Well done, my son!”
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of this dear old friend.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 5, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Reading Lonnie’s daily dose of wisdom in the comments section has always been a big part of Blind Pig and the Acorn for me. Lonnie was an old soul and such a kind, wise mountain man. What a loss for his family, friends, and all of us Blind Pig readers. Y’all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 9:22 am

    RIP Lonnie Lee Dockery. There are just those wonderful people we meet in life, and they can take a piece of our heart when they leave. I always think of how difficult this is on a family who loses them. Prayers best said for the Dockery family to help them deal with the loss.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I didn’t know Lonnie, but the picture speaks a thousand words and would allow a stranger to give an accurate description of him. God bless his family and friends.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 5, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Lonnie and I made a few hikes together up and down mountains and across streams. He did, for a fact, love these mountains and mountain ways.
    One of the reasons I enjoyed being out with him was that he was a fellow adherent to the admonition of George Masa – “More walk, less talk.” I distinctly recall us having lunch at two very different locations. One was on top of Charlie’s Bunion (the real one, not the one all the tourists go to), with fine views all around and no one to intrude on our thoughts. We were mostly silent, just soaking it all in. About the only conversation was pointing to and naming peaks in the distance.
    But we also had a lunch on top of Bumgardner Ridge, well off trail, with no view whatsoever. I’d gotten us into a first class rhododendron hell on the branch, having wanted to see if we could make our way to the old Bumgarner home site. After a couple of hours of the bushwhackers taking all the whacking along the branch, and having covered no more than half a mile, I suggested that maybe we ought to abort and climb up the steep side of the ridge to get out of the rhododendron. So we did, and it was an all fours sort of climb for a good part of the way, and there was plenty of laurel and greenbrier to gently caress as we passed.
    I have a picture of him down on his knees crawling up the side of the ridge (link below). I said something to the effect that it was mighty good to see a fellow like him realizing the error of his ways and down on his knees in prayer. His response was that when a fellow who was supposed to be his buddy got him into such a hell, prayer was a sure enough a needful thing – then turned around with that big ol’ warm grin on his bewhiskered face.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 5, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I am sorry for your sadness. As Dickon said in ‘The Secret Garden’, “We will be parted, you and I, but memory will keep us friends.” Seems Lonnie is one of those ‘treasures laid up’.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    March 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Tipper: Your post was so meaningful!
    That Jim Casada ‘hit the nail on the head’ with his brief statement about experts!
    I must tell you we had a wonderful ‘AUTHORS’ event up in the mountains (Sevierville) last weekend. Not much music but MANY great ‘literary’ folks! I am going back in the Spring for a “Fiddler of the Mountains” presentation in the Library. I just wish Ms. Dolly could attend! Uncle Johnny played for her over in the skating rink in Blairsville in’66 and from that evening on he loved her til he passed away years later!
    Thanks for making chilly mornings seem SUNNY!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

    My condolences to all of you.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    March 5, 2016 at 8:35 am

    So sorry for your loss! I never knew Lonnie But he sounds like the kind of man that it is a pleasure to know. His kind of people are getting scarce.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 5, 2016 at 8:06 am

    That’s Lonnie, that smile, it comes straight from his soul. A warm beautiful smile straight from a warm beautiful soul!

  • Reply
    Kathy McConnell
    March 5, 2016 at 8:03 am

    It was through Lonnie that I was able to even meet you Tipper. I remember the day he told me about The Blind Pig and Acorn and he would encourage me to go online and check it out cause he knew I’d enjoy it. How he’d brag on those “twins” and how good they could sing and play those instruments. He loved the “old paths” just as I did, and we could talk for hours about those days gone by…
    You’ll be greatly missed our dear, dear friend.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 5, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Tipper–I first met Lonnie when the two of you came to Knoxville to listen to a talk I gave and the University of Tennessee Library. He was one of those warm, gregarious souls you instantly liked. He was also part of the group (as were you, Chitter, and Chatter) who bushwhacked to the place in the Park where my father had grown up in the immediate aftermath of Daddy’s funeral service. I’ve got a photo of that group I’ll always cherish.
    Lonnie’s comments on Blind Pig were always insightful, and he could say more in a sentence than I could in two pages. The example you provide is vintage Lonnie Dockery, and I’ll always treasure what he offered when some of your readers, including brother Don and yours truly, were getting a bit disputatious about Horace Kephart’s literary legacy. Someone had said something about most experts of Appalachia thinking highly of Kephart’s book, “Our Southern Highlanders.” Lonnie didn’t offer a judgment about the book; he simply said: “Most Appalachian experts aren’t from Appalachia.” To me, that pretty well summed up the essence of the matter.
    He was a good and gracious man of the mountains, one of the type that make me mighty proud of my high country roots.
    Jim Casada

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