James Robert (Jim Bob) Tinsley - Transylvania County "Renaissance" Man

In the August 16, 2001 issue of the Transylvania Times newspaper, Jim Bob Tinsley was referred to as , "A Renaissance Man", on the front page of section B.  His interest were varied and pursued diligently.

Jim Bob was a native of Transylvania County. He was born on Kings Street in Brevard on August 12, 1921.  Bob, as he was generally known for many years, was the third son of Brance Thomas Tinsley and Sally Bryson Tinsley, descendants of pioneer families of Transylvania County.  He attended public schools and graduated from Brevard High School in 1940. Bob served three years as a Naval aerial photographer during WWII. He was honorably discharged in 1945.  In 1947 he married Doris (Dottie) Wilson.

Bob Tinsley was a multi-talented person. He played the guitar and sang with perfect pitch. Jim Bob excelled in many fields of interest during his lifetime. Some areas in which he was notably recognized were the following: as a performer, an educator, an author, a sportsman, a photographer and a historian.  Bob was also an artist. His preferred media was painting with oils. This talent was not generally known.

As a performer, Jim Bob appeared on stage with many celebrities. He sang in a trio backing up Gene Autry in the late 1940s. During the Casablanca Conference in North Africa, where Jim Bob was stationed in 1943, he was privileged to sing for and with Sir Winston Churchill who was there for the conference of the leaders of the allied nations. Jim Bob also performed with Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, The Sons of the Pioneers, Michael Martin Murphey, Rex Allen and others.

Bob Tinsley held varied positions in the field of education for 28 years. He was a teacher, acting principal and counselor. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, in 1956, from the University of Florida and a Master's Degree in Education, in 1958 from Arizona State College (now named Northern Arizona University). Jim Bob retired from the Marion County School System in Ocala, Florida in 1982.

As an author, Jim Bob excelled in several areas of interest. He authored the only definitive book on the Sailfish.  The hemispheric study of the Puma, the renowned book about Transylvania County waterfalls, the history of the Tinsley family, going back nine generations, the classic award-winning book on the history to traditional cowboy songs, with a forward by Gene Autry, the equally classic book about composed western music, with a forward by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the history of the early cattle industry in Florida and a history of the famous Hashknife Ranches in the west. Jim Bob Tinsley was recognized as an authority in many of these fields of study and received many awards and honors for his impeccable research. Two of the most outstanding awards were the Western Heritage Award in Music from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and the Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts in Ft. Worth, Texas. Jim Bob was also inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame and the Cowboy Poetry and Music Hall of Fame.

Jim Bob was also a sportsman. In 1949, he and his wife, Dottie, set a record by catching nine sailfish in four hours off the coast of Stuart, Florida.  Jim Bob was a successful fresh water fisherman and a hunter of fowl and pumas.

Concerning photography, Jim Bob was an aerial photographer in Naval Aviation for three years during WWII. He photographed many war scenes in the European theater of war. He used his photographic skills after the war to photograph many waterfalls in Transylvania County.  Sixty-two of these photographs appear in his book, The land of waterfalls:Transylvania County, North Carolina.

Jim Bob was an historian. He researched the Tinsley family, waterfalls, cowboy songs, and the cowboy's way of life, western music, Pumas, Sailfish, and ranches of Florida, Texas, Arizona, Montana and Wyoming.  Jim Bob was recognized as an authority in many of these fields of study.

Jim Bob and Dottie Tinsley founded the Jim Bob Tinsley Museum in 1994. The focus of the museum was the ten books authored by Tinsley, and the displays of art and artifacts related to these books. Part of the Museum was dedicated to the Heritage of Transylvania County and displayed pioneer family photographs and artifacts. The Museum was operated as a non-profit organization for fourteen years, transferring many of its extensive assets to the Transylvania Heritage Museum. The Jim Bob Tinsley Museum closed its' doors in December of 2007.

Jim Bob was an active member of the Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church. He was also an active member of the Ft. King Presbyterian Church in Ocala, Florida where he served as elder.

Bob was a very soft spoken, humble and gentle man. He and Dottie shared a rewarding union for over fifty-six years. When he was asked, in 1999 at his induction into the Western Music Hall of Fame, what he considered his finest achievement, he answered, " Marrying my sweetheart -- Dottie has been my sweetheart for over fifty-two years." They were blessed to spend over fifty-six year together.

When Jim Bob Tinsley died in January,  2004, from complications of pneumonia, after having Alzheimer's Disease for a number of years, the Transylvania Times headlines on the front page of the January 22, 2004 issue proclaimed, "Community Mourns Passing of Jim Bob Tinsley."   From a very humble beginning, Jim Bob Tinsley lived life to the fullest and accomplished great things. He left a huge legacy and enriched many lives.  Jim Bob will long be remembered for these achievements.



                                James Robert Tinsley ( Jim Bob)
                                   Naval Aviation Photographer
                                                Circa 1944


                                             Jim Bob Tinsley
                            Transylvania County "Renaissance" Man
                                                Circa 1995


Submitted by Doris (Dottie) Wilson Tinsley
March 2011


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