Festival loses 'Treasured Teller' with death of Anneliese Konkol

Feb 26 2012 - 8:43am


Anneliese Konkol
Anneliese Konkol

A beloved voice will not be heard at this year's Weber State University Storytelling Festival. Anneliese Konkol, of South Ogden, passed away Monday morning.

Festival organizers had planned to honor Konkol during the "Grimms, Ph.D" symposium at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Stewart Library's Hetzel-Hoellein Room on the WSU campus.

"Anneliese has been designated by the festival as a Treasured Teller," said chairwoman Ann Ellis, speaking of Konkol before she died. "She's been instrumental with the festival since the beginning, and was one of the first professional storytellers we worked with. She worked in the Stewart Library for many years, so it's a natural fit to honor her there."

Konkol will still be remembered at the event, and her contributions honored.

"Anneliese had worked at the library, but she was on the (festival) committee because of her storytelling," said Ellis. "She came with so much insight on what to do for storytellers, to make it a good experience for them. Her input was priceless."

Konkol told stories for all but one or two years of the festival, now in its 16th year.

"She was given the Karen J. Ashton Storytelling Award early on," said Ellis.

Jean Andra Miller, a festival committee member, visited Konkol in the week before her death.

"She was preparing to tell a story, and Anneliese was giving her coaching," Ellis said. "So right to the very last, she was helping us out."

During that coaching session, Miller asked Konkol how she became a storyteller.

Konkol was born in Germany, near the border with Poland.

"It was a horrendous battleground during World War II, and during the bombardments everyone had to go into bomb shelters, and her mother would call the children and reassure them by sharing these stories from their cultural tradition. ... That calmed them down," said Miller. "Anneliese said they had lost everything, but they still had their stories."

When Konkol had her own children, she continued her mother's tradition of storytelling.

"Some of her children's friends heard them and thought they were wonderful. They told their teachers, and the teachers invited her to come into the schools and share -- and before you knew it, she was telling stories all over the area," said Miller.

The Friends of the Stewart Library decided to start the Weber State University Storytelling Festival as a fundraiser, in 1996.

"Anneliese was very much in the forefront of encouraging them to do so, and organizing," said Miller. "She truly was a role model and an inspiration, and a pathfinder for this folk art."

From Around the Web