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In Memory of Patty Jo

patty-jo-pulley

Growing Up on The Sonshine Farm

I grew up in a community in Ringgold, Virginia known as the Sonshine Farm. "The Farm" had a lot of notoriety in the Ringgold and Danville area, many people believing it was a cult. While it was not a cult, it was started by a group of Christian people (my parents being two of them) in the 1970s who purchased some land with the old schoolhouse pictured here and many acres surrounding the house, 400 acres to be exact. They then set about remodeling this old house, building a church next to it and then building their owns homes on the surrounding land. I grew up just three houses down from this one, and this was also where I attended kindergarten and first grade before the school had to be closed.

I was just a baby when the Sonshine Farm fell apart, so to speak. The community was rocked with scandal, many of the original members left and the church changed its name to Ringgold Christian Fellowship. It was at this time that I remember Patty Jo and Rick Pulley becoming part of our church family, heading up the praise and worship team. Rick became an associate pastor and he and Patty Jo lead the youth group, which I was a part of, and eventually moved into this very house pictured here.

Rodney Williams

Rodney Williams

"What Do You Mean She's Missing??"

This Can't Be True

Those were the exact words I uttered when I heard the news after getting the call from my mom telling me that Patty Jo was missing. It was May of 1999 and I was a sophomore in college; my mom told me that Patty Jo had gone shopping a few days earlier and had never returned. Her truck had been found on the side of the road just a few miles away from her home. She wouldn't be found for three years.

Photo by Rodney Williams, used with permission.

patty-jo-pulley

Patty Jo Was A Major Influence on Me Growing Up

As I said earlier, Rick and Patty Jo were in charge of the youth group. They conducted the Wednesday night meetings in their home and took us on summer vacations, missionary trips etc. Patty Jo and I became even closer when she began teaching piano lessons and I eagerly signed up to be a student. I admired her musical skill so much and longed to be half the piano player she was.

After the details of her relationship with Rick were made public I wished I would have noticed the signs of abuse. I do remember a tension in the air if Rick would come home during one of my piano lessons and she would often excuse herself to go talk to him behind closed doors, leaving me to practice my scales. I was just too young and naïve to see that anything was wrong.

Kiss and Kill

 

Hearing Her Voice Again

Thanks so much to David Campbell for submitting this link to three songs performed by Patty Jo Pulley and her infamous husband. April 2014 Update: Apparently this link no longer works unless you create an account at this website. I am leaving the link for those of you who may be willing to do so.

When Patty Jo Died, So Did Rick

As I Knew Him

I remember Rick as a nice, funny man who could play the guitar and would make up songs about frogs. I always enjoyed listening to him sing and play, and I even found his sermons to be interesting. I did know that many of the boys in the youth group, my brother included, eventually stopped going and stated that Rick was not a nice person, to put it nicely. I never really understood what their problem with Rick was, but now I know that they must have seen a side to him that I never saw.

After Patty Jo's disappearance, Rick's indiscretions began to be revealed. He was embezzling money from the church and having an affair. While I cannot confirm this, rumor had it that Patty Jo knew about the affair and was planning on leaving him, which is what made Rick snap. When I was told that he was suspected of being responsible for her disappearance I was shocked, but I never really doubted it. There are people who stood by him and still believe he's innocent, but I am not one of those people.

In a way, I am also mourning the loss of Rick.

Photo by Rodney Williams, used with permission.

  1. She was kind
  2. She was beautiful, inside and out
  3. She was an amazing musician
  4. She was a patient teacher
  5. She was my friend