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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 377
Tuesday, January 3, 2016

RIP Dingo (Robert Gooch)

RIP “Dr. Dingo” "the Australian Dog" (Robert Gooch)

January 15, 1955 - December 26 2016

It was a blue, blue Christmas in Clarksdale. Our good friend Dingo, passed away late Christmas night (in the wee-wee hours of Monday, Dec 26th) due to complications of the heart. While wearing many other hats around town, Dingo was also a loyal Quapaw shuttle driver. He also carved fanciful walking sticks out of Mississippi Rver driftwood. His lamp burned bright, his cup runneth over. He was a good spirit to all he met. Our sympathies go out to his family. We will dearly miss Dingo. But we also will never forget his stories and the bright presence he brought to our lives.

Our paddles are up to you, Dingo! Many blessings to you across the river from all of us Mighty Quapaws. We know you are now on your long journey. We feel you and will always remember you, and send you our big river blessings.

Obituary: Robert Earl Gooch was born on January 15, 1955, in Marks, MS, to the late Roosevelt and Annie Lee Gooch. His son Lavell and two sisters Jean and Betty Ann proceeded him in death. He accepted Christ at an early age. He leaves to cherish his memories of long-time love of 13 years Beatrice Payne of Clarksdale, MS; three daughters Starteria (Clarksdale), Kiana (Washington) and Cynthia (Robinsonville); three sons Rahzel (Clarksdale), Chris (Clarksdale), and John (Horn Lake); one brother Roosevelt (Water Valley) two sisters Velma (Oxford) and Shirley Faye (Texas); one aunt Bernice (Cleveland, OH); two uncles Leonard and Charlie (Memphis, TN), and a host of neices, nephews, relatives and friends. Robert will be missed by many. He was someone who loved life and enjoyed every minute of it until the Lord called him home. He was loved by everyone that crossed his path in life.

Funeral Arrangements: Services were held at Delta Burial, 429 Yazoo Ave, Clarksdale, MS 38614; 662-624-4161, on Saturday Dec 31st, at 11am. Per his wishes, Dingo was cremated.

Family Support: Roger Stolle at Cat Head has set up a fund in support of Dingo's family. If you want to help out the bereaved, please make a check out to Dingo’s widow, Beatrice Payne, and send to:

Beatrice Payne

c/o Cat Head

252 Delta Ave

Clarksdale, MS 38614

Mark River Tribute

Dingo My Friend

On my arrival to Clarksdale in the winter of 2012, Robert Gooch aka Dingo were one of the first people I came across. In the dark juke joint, Red's, I was introduced, with a shot of moonshine, and his trademark "mayen", welcome to Clarksdale. The MC of my favorite juke, and later Quapaw teammate, Dingo quickly became a staple of my life in Clarksdale.

The spring quickly came around, and I could somedays smell the hickory from his pit down at the canoe shop. Sometimes I would stop whatever I was doing and take a walk down Sunflower Avenue to check out what was happening, only to find Red, Ellis, Melvin, Charles, and Dingo sitting outside entertaining tourists and telling stories. It would always end up being a barbecue competition with me being the judge, a job which I loved.

He later become one of our most dependable shuttle drivers. He shared the excitement of going to the River before trips and always had the clients eager to enjoy some blues after the trips. He was one of the only drivers who could back up our Quapaw 15 passenger van with ease on the shabbiest of boat ramps. He, along with Ellis Coleman, was always part of the completion of Quapaw expeditions and trips. Always eager to lighten the load of our coolers and fill us with information we might have missed while we were out.

Not only was he a Quapaw, he was an artist, entrepreneur, and avid outdoorsman. He would search for unique pieces of driftwood and carve, stain, and individualize them into walking sticks. Some he would give to special people in his life, and some he would sell at local galleries. I am fortunate to own a personalized one which sits next to my bed. He had a hidden talent of catching snakes. Not just any snake, but poisonous snakes like cottonmouths. One day after a trip, I walked up to him, only to show me a cottonmouth he had captured. He continued on to show his snake catching technique, which I have happily never applied. He wanted me to smell the cottonmouth, so I could protect myself and my clients on the river. They have a unique "musk" which I have never forgotten, and I have applied this knowledge on the river. Any day of the week, you could find him and Ellis sitting along the Sunflower River, feeding their pet raccoons, enjoying the beautiful Delta afternoons.

With the celebrities and icons our country has lost in 2016, it's only fitting the Creator added one more unique individual to this group. He was my friend and his legacy will live through me and the Mighty Quapaws. I can see him in heaven with my favorite artist, Prince, and Muhammed Ali having a conversation and practicing the Quapaw, "who-ute". Like all Quapaws, we never say "goodbye," but "see you later!"

- Mark River

From Zoe Sundra:

Dingo was the heartbeat of Clarksdale. Well, he was at least one of the heartbeats, one of the vibrant lights that make this town glow. His smile and laugh was a good luck charm at the start of every trip, and I always looked forward to seeing what outfit and cane he had chosen that day. Between Dingo and Ellis, I’m not sure who danced or dressed better in a Friday night at Red’s. He was a friendly face I was always happy to see coming off the river, and a trusted hand behind the wheel of our canoe caravans.

This is a devastating loss for Quapaw and the community of Clarksdale. There are so many places where his light will be missed, but it gives me some comfort to know we can always find his beautiful spirit on the river, in the heavens and greeting us at Red’s.

Rest easy my friend, we love and miss you more than words can say.


Upcoming Events:

Sat, Jan 14: Film Release! Dale Sanders: Source to Sea at Brooks Museum of Art (Memphis, TN) This will be the first public and premier of the film. The movie starts at 2pm. But if you want free food and drinks, arrive early at 12:30’ish. Go online to purchase Brooks Museum Tickets — in advance. They are quickly selling out! (Dale Sanders, Grey Beard Adventurer, Source-to-Sea, Mississippi River Record, A Challenge to Cure, Juvenile Diabetes).

Jan 26-28: Clarksdale Film Festival in downtown Clarksdale, MS.

Saturday, Feb 18: LMRF General Annual Membership Meeting. Our general annual membership meeting takes place at noon on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day. The 2017 meeting is 12noon Saturday, Feb 18th, at Quapaw Canoe Company Clarksdale, with a potluck, and Sunflower River Cleanup afterwards. Come join us, if you can. We will have canoes and paddleboards for the cleanup. If you can’t join us, then wherever you are -- love your river. And as we say around here: “May the River be with You!”

March 20 -May 10: Rivergator Celebratory Expedition March-May 2017. Now filing seats! You can sign up for the 6-week expedition from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico celebrating the completion of the Rivergator: one million words describing the Lower Mississippi. Your participation in this celebration will help make it a success!

April 20-23: Juke Joint Festival

Coming up in Fall 2017: Quapaw Canoe Company Artist’s Retreat! One week on the Mississippi River with your pens, paints, paper, guitar — whatever are your tools of creativity.

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch is brought to you courtesy of The Lower Mississippi River Foundation

Our Projects:

Rivergator: 1Million words describing the Lower Mississippi River:

Wild Miles: 71% of the Lower Miss is wild according to river rats. Will it stay that way?

Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program: long term apprenticeships developing personal character and young leaders through canoe building, big river guiding, and survival skills on the Lower Mississippi River.

LiNKS = Leave No Kids On Shore

LiNK-ing kids to the big river and mother nature -- with the passion of a LYNX.

Every LiNK in the chain is as important as the others. Real-time experiences for the betterment of personal health and environmental conservation along the Lower Mississippi River.

Friends of the Sunflower Rive

Established in 2005 for cleanups, paddle events and other educational programming on the Sunflower River.

River Arts

Youth program begun in 2012 as an after-school river activity in conjunction with GRIOT Arts.

Our Friends:

Quapaw Canoe Company: custom-guided wilderness expeditions on the biggest and wildest river in North America, in our hand crafted cypress strip voyageur canoes. Now with outposts in Memphis, Vicksburg, Helena and Natchez. Home base: Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Big Muddy Adventures: custom-guided adventures on the Missouri, Mississippi, Meramec and Illinois -- covering the Grand Central Station of America's rivers from home base St. Louis.