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Roy Castleberry
Roy Castleberry, Artist

Picture by Gilda Snowden

b. Jan. 25 1947 - d. May 25th 2007

Daily Tribune
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Roy B. Castleberry Jr., 60, of Royal Oak for more than 20 years, formerly of Warren, died Friday, May 25, 2007, at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. He was born Jan. 25, 1947, in Detroit.

Mr. Castleberry received a master's degree of fine arts at Wayne State University and was the owner and operator of Abeada Corp. for more than 30 years. Abeada Corp. is a wholesale distributor of semi-precious stones located in Royal Oak. He was an avid boater and an artist who sketched charcoal drawings. He has works in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

He is survived by sister, Martha J. (LeRoy) Ghekiere of Metamora; nieces and nephews, Richard (Kelley) Ghekiere of Farmington Hills, Shelley (Derek) Pauck of Shelby Township and Judy (Matthew) Bunch of Sterling Heights; grand-nieces and grand-nephews, Katelyn and Jason Ghekiere, Laura and Clare Pauck and Madison and Sydney Bunch.

A private service and cremation is being performed; memorials, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 24359 Northwestern Highway, Suite 225, Southfield, MI 48075; arrangements, Sawyer-Fuller Funeral Home, 2125 W. 12 Mile Road, Berkley; online,

Jim Pallas:

It was a shock to hear the death of Roy Castleberry.

 Here's the only photo I have of him. He's standing on the sidewalk outside of the Focus Gallery on Beaubien in 1982 with his arm around a hitch hiking self-portrait of me.  The plywood hitch hiker was used as a sidewalk sign for a self-portrait show:
Click for larger picture
   Roy lived with his  wife, Chris, on Cass down near Willis in the corridor.  My wife, Janet, and I had moved from 4th and Forest to Highland Park with our infant son.   I met Roy when we were both in the 1972 Annual Michigan Artists show at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  He called me and said the director, Willis Woods, removed two photographs from the show because an Arts Commission member was offended by them.  One was a photo of a vandalized lavatory on Belle Isle.  If one looked closely one could make out the word "fuck" scrawled among the graffiti.  The other was of a man starting to unzip his fly.  I forget the names of the photographers.  Roy was organizing a protest against this interference.  Suzanne Hillberry was the curator of  Modern Art at the time and was powerless in the face of the director and commission member.  Roy, I and several other artists in the show went to a meeting with Director Woods.  He said the board member, who was not named, gave him an ultimatum: Remove the two works or he would write the D.I.A. out of his will.  Woods said that he was against censorship, that he respected that the artists would do what we  had to do, but that, for the good of the museum, he was removing the photos. Many of us, including Roy pulled our works from the show. 

  Years later,  Roy called me up and said he was tired of being poor.  Sign painting and selling an occasional drawing just didn't cut it. He said he was thinking about selling beads.
I said, "That's crazy, Roy.  You can't make any money selling beads.  They're just a...."
 I was about to say, " temporary fad," but I started rummaging through my scant knowledge of recent fashion and then not-so-recent fashion. Beads are there.  I remembered that Manhattan Island was supposed to been traded for a couple of trunks of beads and that much Native American energy went into beaded articles while Victorian ladies appliquéd beads on their dresses, shoes and bags.  Beads were traded for slaves in Africa.  I recalled that cowry shell beads became more valuable the farther from the seashore that they were traded and that this principle of distance increasing the value of beads still prevailed.  The longer I thought about it, the more I realized the desire for beads was universal and constant.
Roy knew all this and more.
He and Chris scraped a little money together and started Beada Beada.  They did quite well.  If you went into their little shop, Roy would educate you about any of the hundreds of beads they stocked, their history, their meaning and their use.  He would explain which ones went together and why. He would show you how to string them in multiple strands and finish the clasp.  He would teach you how to attach pendants. He could answer any question and if he couldn't, he could the next time you came in. But he had a strict policy: he would not string a bead himself!
In a few years Roy was complaining about taxes.  He said he was paying more that year in taxes than he made in a ten years as an artist.  He went wholesale Internet mail order.  In Asia he was wined, dined and feted royally as the big bead buyer from America.
Under his influence, I started using beads in my sculptures whenever I could. In 1978, he donated the blue and white "good fortune" beads that rode atop the inflating tubes in my NorthCourt TubeDance at the D.I.A. and sold me the clear Austrian crystal beads that adorned my "Self-portrait with Beads" in the same show.
Roy also gave me the address of Ray Johnson's Buddha U. when I started doing mail art which started a series of mail art exchanges culminating in my ill fated Hitch Hiker of Ray.
When Roy got heavy into beads, he told me he stopped making the beautiful sensuous drawings of nudes that he called "flesh art" or any other art.  I always wondered if that was true. Could a talented sensitive artist simply walk away from it cold turkey?
Roy was smart, aware and often had a unique perspective on things.  The community is poorer at his passing.

Anne remembers:
I met Roy a couple of years ago when I started working at a place he frequented. He was warm and friendly, and I was always happy to see him come in the door.
He was bright AND funny AND kind. I will miss that sweet smile, his interesting observations, his fresh and witty commentary. What a clever and cool guy. Thinking of him...

Roy and Dave Opatik, taken by Tom Karsiotis

Tom Karsiotis writes:
The photo was taken somewhere around 1972. Roy and Dave had started a sign company above the Song Shop Bar. Their primary business was gasoline price signs and most of the work at the Gratiot Central Market. Roy split for name). We painted hundreds of those things above the Song Shop and after inhaling paint fumes for a few hours Dave and I would go downstairs and eat over salted hamburgers and drink cheap beer. We split up later and I started the Atomic Sign Co. (after the Mickey Rooney movie "The Atomic Kid"), Dave retained the Spiffy name and Roy went into the bead business.
The "Day-Glo" paint we used for the numbers only lasted a year or two in the sunlight so we had a brisk business repainting them in the summer. It was at one of these repaints that I snapped the photo. We would start by tapping off a gallon of gas from the pump and washing the grease and crud off the panels. the "Day-Glo" would then be rolled on. At this point we had to wait about an hour before we could paint the black and that was a great time for a beer run. It was at this point I took the photo.

In retrospect it seemed like a great time but I bet at that time it probably wasn't.

Dear Stephen,
This is just to let you know that Roy Castleberry died today at approx 1:45 after a short hospitalization.
Peace, Deb King

Roy Castleberry, Artist

...And a picture kindly sent by Gilda Snowden:

If you have any more information, please email me, or post it here.