MURRELLS INLET — Ron Deise, vice president of creative education at Brookgreen Gardens, has retired from his role at the popular sculpture garden.
The move will allow Dice, a Gullah ambassador who brought cultural awareness to millions on the 1990s Nickelodeon program “Gullah Gullah Island,” to spend more time on his creative endeavors. His role at Brookgreen spanned programming, organizing school field trips and overseeing adult education.
Since 2004, Ron has served to change the cultural landscape of Brookgreen, providing family-friendly programs, collaborating and partnering with the community, developing exhibits and raising awareness of Gullah-Geechi culture and heritage, said Anne-Marshall Gillam of the Hammond Group, a public relations firm serving Brookgreen. “He is responsible for many Gula-Giche events and exhibitions, including Brookgreen’s Black History Month, Juneteenth Celebration, and Huntington’s Exemplary Service Award Ceremony.”
Deiss released two novels in 2022, each dealing with the Gwala-Giche culture of Africans who were colonized centuries ago. He also recently developed a line of homemade pound cakes, Mr. Ron’s Delicious Pound Cakes, through Etsy. More writing is in the future, he said.
“It was just time to move on to other things,” Deiss told The Georgetown Times of his decision to retire. “I’m very happy with the work I’ve done. I think it’s a basic job for someone else to come in and do other things.”
The “Gulalah Island” man, popularly known to TV fans, remains busy as always. He speaks fondly of the libretto for “Sancofa: Go Back and Find It,” which will be performed with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra in February and published in late 2023 with Belle Isle Books of Richmond, Va.
But the native of St. Helena Island still lives in the South Carolina area. He and his family initially plan to return to Beaufort County, but will remain in Georgetown for the time being.
Looking back on his years with Brookgreen, Daiz said that fostering an understanding of interpretive history and expanding family involvement were among his greatest accomplishments.
“This has increased dramatically over the last 18 years,” Deiss said.
When Dice looks back on his many activities in his first 66 years, from journalism to television to teaching, he remembers that the Gullah-Jichi is by no means a lost culture, but rather a culture that has come into its own.
“And so[that]we celebrate our culture with many cultures around the world in different ways,” Deiss said. “It’s not just a favorable view of who we are, but it’s rooted in the history of this country and the history of the world.”