We are saddened by the loss of Connie Brosi, a deeply committed servant of Appalachia who inspired many in our community. This obituary was written by her husband George and is contributed by Phil Obermiller.
The Appalachian Studies community has lost one of its pioneers with the death Saturday of Connie Brosi. In 2012 Mike Mullins, the late Director of Hindman Settlement School presented Connie and her husband, George, his only Rocking Chair Award for contributions to regional life and to the Appalachian Writers Workshop. In 2014, Connie and George were presented the Lee Smith Award for work to preserve and promote Appalachian Culture given by the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival of Lincoln Memorial University.
From 1965-1968 Connie taught 3rd and 4th grades at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky. During this time she was active in the Appalachian Group to Save the Land and People and the Council of the Southern Mountains. She attended the first Appalachian Studies Conference held in 1970 at Wise, Virginia, sponsored by the Education Commission of the Council of the Southern Mountains. From 1971 until 1974, while living on a subsistence farm near Sequatchie, Tennessee, she worked closely with George who was administering youth grants in Appalachia for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Youth Program, and from 1977 to 1978 she worked with him in his role as an organizer for Save Our Cumberland Mountains, and in the summer of 1978, in Morgantown, West Virginia, with the Mountain Community Union. From 1979 until 1982 Connie was on the staff of the Council of the Southern Mountains bookstore in Berea, Kentucky. In 1982 she and George created Appalachian Mountain Books, dedicated to supplying the Appalachian Studies Community with inexpensive books about the region. Ever since then she either attended the Appalachian Studies Conference and the Appalachian Writers Workshop and numerous other regional events or helped prepare displays for these functions.
Over the more than thirty years it has existed, her family’s business, Appalachian Mountain Books, has supplied over 100,000 regional books and other media to academic collections and thousands more to regional scholars. From 1985 to 1995, this business’s book catalogs were converted to a periodical with the same name that published many of the region’s foremost authors and scholars along with extensive bibliographic material. In 1985 Connie and George began preparing “New Book Notes” for Appalachian Heritage magazine, a task they continued to do for almost thirty years until the fall of 2013. These entries provide by far the most extensive annotated bibliography of regional materials in existence.
From 1989 until 1990 Connie lived near Whittier, North Carolina, while continuing to try to make the family regional book business work. Back in Berea, she worked very closely with George from 2002 until 2013 in his capacity as editor of Appalachian Heritage magazine. Connie Brosi has written with keen insight about our region. For example, she was a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006) and helped her husband in his role as editor of its Images and Icons section. She also served an important role helping her husband who was the co-editor of Appalachian Gateway: An Anthology of Contemporary Stories and Poetry, (2013) the leading textbook for Appalachian Literature courses. Connie Brosi has lived in Appalachian Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Her work over the last fifty years has been essential to many of the most important institutions supporting Appalachian Studies.