A Blog Dedicated To A Real Ralph Twigger—GARY BAYER

A Blog Dedicated To A Real Ralph Twigger—GARY BAYER

Gary Bayer was my mentor and director for my writing and storytelling since 1987. My work was growing and I knew I needed help and guidance for my ever-growing ministry in the arts.

I had heard him read scripture at the church we were all attending. I thought, “What a voice! …What incredible phrasing given to familiar words.”

I called Gary and asked if I could meet with him to talk about my storytelling work. He agreed to meet with me on a Wednesday night, after church. We sat on the stage in Lee Chapel at First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena. He told me about this space where the stage existed and how he had a hand in some of the decisions made concerning Lee Chapel being more of a theatrical space—like the raked seating for the audience and a backstage area.

I knew that God had guided me to someone who could teach me as a storyteller and an actor. Gary’s answer to my question of mentoring and directing my work was what I would come to learn was Gary’s way of life—“I’ll pray about it.”

My husband, David, and I were in the midst of adopting our son Tim, and Gary had two adopted children. He offered to pray for us that evening. His prayers over my life and my family never ceased after that first prayer. I left that night hoping God and Gary would say, “Yes.”

Our relationship of mentor/director and mentee/storyteller-writer went on for many, many years. We did years of Storynight productions together, with Gary directing every show and acting in most of them. We partnered in writing sketches and doing productions, and championing the arts and the artists, together. Gary directed and produced all of my audio work.

Gary was “my first story edit.” I would pass my work on to my book and story editor, Marcia Coppess for her touch, after Gary had done his magic. He was a lover of story and The Story of God. He was tireless in his push for the better story. He never gave up on me finding the heart of a story as a teller— “I think you have a better one in you, Melea.”

When my character Ralph Twigger came into existence, it was as if Gary had met Ralph. He seemed to know all about him already. He gave me many ideas for his biographical life and expert critique regarding Ralph’s reality insisting that he remain simple and truthful. He helped me to believe that I could make my voice sound like a 70-something-year-old gentleman. When I finally found Ralph’s voice after weeks of trying and trying, Gary was the first person I called talking to him like Ralph Twigger so I could keep the voicing in my heard.

He believed in me. We all need someone who sees the person we were always meant to be, don’t we? Gary did that for me and hundreds of others.

We did life together. We lived together sharing our families, cooked and ate together sharing his favorite thing—the table. We shared our friends and relatives, our successes and failures, heartaches and wounds, the joys and celebrations. We prayed together about everything. To my children, Gary was and will always be Uncle Gary. To David and me Gary was and will always be our dear brother and beloved friend.

I am dedicating my Ralph Twigger blog to you, Gary Bayer. Thank you for giving life to our friend Ralph Twigger and life to the many artists that you mentored. We are better artists for having your shaping of the story in our lives.






From Perry Moore, composer and accompanist, for every Ralph Twigger story ever recorded and performed:


Melea asked me about the music that I created for Ralph. It started with Gary Bayer. He is like Ralph in many ways. Although Gary is no longer with us, I must speak of him as if he is still here. Because wonderful, vivid, and meaningful memories are still etched in my heart. He is still right here in my heart. Anyway… Gary had this idea while directing the Storynight where Ralph was first introduced to us. Whenever Ralph thought of his precious Rachel, the song “A Bicycle Built for Two” should be playing in the background. “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true. I’m half crazy over the love of you…” Just that melody softly playing as Melea told the story. So then I had to come up with a theme for Ralph. Well, I love the tuba. It is a low toned instrument. It can be gentle. It can be humorous. I thought it was the perfect instrument for this wonderful man. I listened to the 3/4 time signature and chord structure of “A Bicycle Built for Two” and just layered Ralph’s tuba line right over it. The melody practically wrote itself. So really, the man who came up with the idea for Ralph’s memory of Rachel kind of wrote Ralph’s theme. Thank you, Gary Bayer!

Read the first story “Ralph Twigger”

Visit the “Dear Ralphy” page


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