‘Afternoon in the Park’ celebrates works of Rockwall County author/historian Sheri Stodghill Fowler Parks

(ROCKWALL, TX – Oct. 1, 2015) Folks were treated to some delicious pies, a presentation about the informative historical works of author/historian Sheri Stodghill Fowler Parks and a book signing by Sheri’s mother Patsy Stodghill during the Rockwall County Historical Foundation’s Sunday Afternoon in the Park event, held on the grounds of the Rockwall Historical Museum at Harry Myers Park on Sept. 27.

Patsy and Sharon Shannon each spoke about Sheri – who died of colon cancer at her great-grandmother’s home on Jan. 22 at age 47 – and of her accomplishments as a freelance writer and spokeswoman of the Rockwall Independent School District, and of course of her strong passion for local history.

Sheri found her love for genealogical history at a very young age, as Patsy related with a story:

“When she was in the 1st grade – first day of school – the teacher asked each student to name something that was special about them. Many of the kids named certain toys they had, some named the size of television sets they had, and when they got to Sheri she said, ‘I am special because I have a great-grandmother.’ Right then, we knew that this kid was going to be very rare and very different.”

Sheri inherited her passion for history from her great-grandmother and her amazing collection of scrapbooks containing not only historical pictures of family, but also of old newspaper articles about all the people who lived in Heath and nearly everyone who lived in Rockwall. The scrapbooks included national events as well, such as President Roosevelt’s and President Truman’s deaths.

Sheri was also very involved with the RCHF from the moment she and her family first moved to Rockwall in 2000 from Austin, putting on several historical programs and lectures throughout the county so she could share her knowledge of local history with local people, and the lecture series which the RCHF holds monthly has been named in honor of Sheri’s efforts to retain and pass on the history of Rockwall County. Her works include Images of Rockwall (2009), Rockwall Then and Now (2011), Images of Royse City (2012), and her latest which Patsy helped to finish for Sheri when she passed, Legendary Locals (2015).

Sheri graduated from the University of Texas with degrees in Radio, Television, Film and Journalism, and became an assistant editor and copywriter for Texas Monthly. She also freelanced for several publications including the Dallas Morning News, and was actively involved in Friends of the Library, Alliance for the Arts, RISD Education Foundation and was fervent about the preservation of Rockwall buildings.

So just how did Sheri manage in her 47 years to create such an honorary legacy? According to Sharon, one only has to look to her parents, Donald and Patsy, and her brother, Steven.

“Don’s logical, keen mind and quick wit were his gifts to Sheri,” she said. “Patsy, whose creativity both inspired and challenged Sheri, and Steven. Sheri said she grew up being a servant who existed for the sole purpose of delivering sodas and snacks, and to otherwise do his bidding. He was like a god to her when she was a child and she felt that way about him until the day she passed to the other side. These three formed the basis and the examples of excellence that Sheri retained for herself.”

RCHF President Carolyn Francisco also announced plans to build a three-foot tall replica of the original rock wall which the city of Rockwall was named after on the grounds of the historical museum. The wall will be made up of stones used in the original rock wall located on the old Stodghill farm, and will include a mounted plaque depicting Sheri’s favorite picture of the original rock wall in honor of her memory.

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News staff writer. 

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