Five years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Laurie Brunson Altieri at the Foxfire Museum. Laurie had been a Foxfire student back in the early 70’s and her experience as a Foxfire student greatly influenced her life. She loved to talk about her classmates and the contacts she had gotten to know through Foxfire. Laurie was one of the lucky students that spent a lot of time visiting with Aunt Arie. Whenever she talked about Aunt Arie she would just light up from inside from the joyous memories she had. She loved to share her Foxfire stories with our museum visitors and she would keep them enthralled. Her passion for everything Foxfire was an inspiration for all of us at the museum. And although her name may not be as recognizable as some others, I can attest that her contributions to Foxfire have been significant. Laurie was one of the people that put the fire in Foxfire. It was with great sadness that we learned of her passing this week. Foxfire has lost a student, a contact, and more importantly, Foxfire has lost a good friend. You will be missed Laurie.
~ Barry Stiles
Joyce Brookshire was born in the Appalachians of Northeast Georgia, moving to Atlanta with her family around the late 1940s. The family settled in Cabbagetown and her mother went to work at the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill. Around 1976, through connections at Rabun Gap School and the Foxfire program there, Joyce was introduced to Foxfire’s music teacher George Reynolds. At the time, George was putting together a record label for Foxfire and Joyce, already an accomplished musician, became one of the first artists to record with George and the Foxfire students. Recently, I got reconnected with Joyce’s story through a rekindling of the old Cabbagetown community center, known as “The Patch”. Jacob Elsas, the person reviving the organization, reached out to us a few months ago and, due to our conversations, I began digging around in the archive and found a few copies of North Georgia Mountains, Foxfire album 101, which was released in 1977. Jacob had a relationship with Joyce and my hope was to interview her for a feature. Sadly, she passed on June 4th. We have sent a copy of the album to Jacob and The Patch Works in Cabbagetown and hope that Joyce’s legacy lives on through her music.
~ TJ Smith