Jerry Burns’ Day Held in Honor of Former Newspaper Editor in Blowing Rock

Published Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers and his mother, Peggy Sellers, were the special guest speakers for Monday’s event commemorating Jerry Burns’ Day.

By Nathan Ham

The Blowing Rock Historical Society came together on Monday to host the annual Jerry Burns’ Day to honor the former editor of the Blowing Rocket who passed away in 2010. The gathering took place at the Edgewood Cottage with Blowing Rock Historical Society President Rita White serving as introductory speaker and moderator of the event.

Each Jerry Burns’ Day has guest speakers to talk about not only their memories of Jerry, but also their own personal family stories. Speakers often answer questions from the crowd in attendance.

Blowing Rock Mayor, Charlie Sellers, and his mother, Peggy Sellers, were the featured speakers for Monday’s event. Peggy is the daughter of the late Grover Robbins Sr., who leased and developed the land for the Blowing Rock attraction and the sister of the late Grover Robbins Jr., who purchased Tweetsie Railroad from actor and singer, Gene Autry.

“Jerry Burns, I knew as a child, he did a lot of great things for the community through the newspaper, through media, and he was so well thought of by everyone,” Charlie said.

Burns was a staple of the Blowing Rock community for many years and was always supportive of the businesses that the Robbins family was a part of, according to Peggy.

“He (Jerry) was always really supportive of my dad and my dad and my mother thought the world of him,” said Peggy. “He used to do so much with the paper, so much photography that we don’t have anymore. He would always do interesting incidents and accidents, you would always know what was going on with the paper. It was a fantastic job he did, he went out of his way to do these things, he has been sorely missed by many people, especially the Robbins family.”

Peggy’s brother, Spencer, at the age of 91, is still selling real estate and was planning to make it to the event but could not get away from his work.

The Robbins family has been widely considered the pioneers of tourism in Blowing Rock, thanks in large part to keeping the Blowing Rock attraction and Tweetsie running strong for so many years.

“My oldest brother (Grover Jr.) was the real brains of the operation, the rest of us were pretty lazy,” Peggy joked.

Peggy’s family also started the first movie theater in Blowing Rock, making her a popular date for boys that wanted to see the latest flicks and knew that if they took her to the movies, they could get in free.

Later on, Grover Jr. and brothers, Harry Robbins and Spencer Robbins, were instrumental in growing tourism even more through the High Country. They played a big part in opening the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge, which eventually became Appalachian Ski Mountain. The family opened The Hound Ears Golf and Country Club, Beech Mountain Resort and the Land of Oz. Grover Jr. died in 1970 after a battle with cancer just before the Land of Oz park was set to open.

“He (Grover Jr.) had so many dreams for this area, he never stopped working on all of this stuff. He was involved in a lot of things, but bringing Tweetsie here was probably the biggest thing he ever did,” Peggy said.

Peggy operated the Blowing Rock Attraction for 40 years before turning things over to Charlie.

Tweetsie still remains in the Robbins family as Harry’s son, Chris, owns and operates North Carolina’s longest running amusement park to this day.

Edgewood Cottage was the site of the annual Jerry Burns’ Day celebration that took place on Monday in Blowing Rock.

An old grocery store ledger that included numerous Robbins family names inside.

Numerous historical artifacts were on display including old business ledgers and photographs.

Rita White, the Blowing Rock Historical Society’s President, shares some opening remarks with the crowd.

A nice crowd gathered to hear stories from long-time Blowing Rock Resident, Peggy Sellers and her son, Charlie, who is the current mayor of Blowing Rock. All of this was part of Jerry Burns’ Day.

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