That’s how Allison Chappelle described her grandfather, Jerry Chappelle, on his 80th birthday. 

“He’s the most amazing artist I’ve ever known,” she said, boasting how he helped teach her to draw as a young child and continued to inspire her into adulthood. 

Even early into his career, Jerry Chappelle was such a distinguished figure in the arts community that he received a handwritten letter from Walt Disney, according to Allison.

Jerry grew up on a poultry farm in Farmington, Missouri, before attending every art class imaginable in college. His wife, Kathy, was a business major at the University of Minnesota when he first met her. They married in 1962 and moved to Oconee County in 1970. 

While Jerry was teaching ceramics at the University of Georgia, he searched for a studio sanctum that was quiet and off the beaten path. What he and Kathy found was an old farmhouse off Carson Graves Road whose chicken coops became studio space for printmaking, iron work, glass blowing, jewelry making, weaving and, of course, one-of-a-kind pottery. 

Named after a cartoon utopia, Happy Valley Pottery became an incubator for aspiring artists.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 21 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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