Who is the best public speaker in Dallas?

Rose-Mary Rumbley is the best speaker in North Texas bar none.

She doesn’t have a Web site. Does zero marketing. She’s never been to a National Speakers Association meeting.

Yet if you ask any active woman in North Texas who they love to hear, the answer is always the same:

Rose-Mary Rumbley.

Chance are you’ve never heard of her. But take it from me, Dave Lieber, The Watchdog columnist at The Dallas Morning News: Rose-Mary Rumbley is the real deal.Dave Lieber says that Rose-Mary Rumbley is the best speaker in Dallas.

She speaks 600 times a year.

She’s almost 80 years old.

She’s been doing it for more than 40 years.

I speak about 100 times a year, too, and I can’t keep up with her!

Dallas is home to about 75 “book review” clubs, more book clubs than any city in America. These clubs are decades old, traditional and fun. The ladies meet each month to hear a guest speaker “review” a book, which usually involves some kind of dramatic performance on behalf of the book. The sky is the limit when it comes to options.

Rumbley speaks each year before almost every one of the 75 – the only reviewer to do so – plus she pulls in another 500 speeches everywhere she can. She averages two a day.

She estimates that she has written and performed hundreds of hours of material. Each year she comes up with a new Christmas show.

She’s written four books about Dallas history and Texas foods. She’s was a prominent speech and drama teacher at Dallas Baptist University. Plus, she’s got more firepower, brain power and passion power than just about any speaker you ever saw.

Sadly, her husband, Jack, of 56 years, passed away on Dec. 30. He played kettle drum in the Fort Worth Symphony at Ball Hall and was a renowned musician for decades.

When I called her the other day to check these facts, I caught her, of course, between engagements.

“Today I’ve been to Sherman and then to a retirement center. I’ll teach an hour and a half of speech at the 4th grade at West Dallas Community School. Then I’ll be at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and I’ll drive to Austin to speak to the Knife and Fork Club. Then I’ll rush back.”

She continued, “I have a brand new speech tomorrow for the Episcopalians. Their theme was walking. I’m doing ‘Walking to Heaven.’ It’s a brand new one. I hope it goes.”

It will. I saw her recently at Rhea Crane Reading Club, a 50-year-old club that meets in Farmers Branch. Her talk was called “Etta and Ebby.” She explained that one day she was reading my newspaper, the Star-Telegram, and saw two stories side by side. One was about Etta Place, the girlfriend of the Sundance Kid. The other was about Ebby Halliday, the legendary Dallas Realtor about to celebrate her 100th birthday at the Super Bowl next year.

Rumbley thought, “What if I put them together?” Turns out, they both have a lot in common, including fake names. By the time Rumbley was done roaring through her rendition of Fort Worth history and cowboys and outlaws and newspapers and music, I learned more about my city in an hour than I have in the 17 years I’ve lived here.

Rose-Mary Rumbley is the best. Six hundred audiences a year know that.

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Remember that you can bring Dave Lieber to your group. He’s an expert in storytelling for business and showing the power of storytelling to increase sales, build support, raise money and attract attention.

He’s a Certified Speaking Professional and a fabulous entertainer offering fun and funny insights to make your life better. He’s The Watchdog columnist at The Dallas Morning News.

Dave Lieber. Authentic. Engaging. Interactive.

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  1. I am trying to find a contact number or email for Rosemary Rumbley. Can you help me.

  2. Hi Dave!!
    Understand that YOU are a pretty good speaker yourself!!!
    Thanks for giving us book reviewers a plug!!
    Nella Phillips

    • Thanks so much, Nella!

  3. Rose-Mary is the Saint of the Sisterhood (and brotherhood as well) of Book Reviewers.
    When I started out, I called her for guidance and with her usual wisdom, she said, “Honey, get ready to be paid with lots of centerpieces at first!” Since I love centerpieces, it seemed reasonable.
    I couldn’t keep up her pace, if I wanted to (and I don’t), but she is the Best! No doubt about it.

  4. Rose-Mary Rumbley is my mentor, inspiration, a delight, a scholar who communicates with humor. She is the BEST and knowing her is a privilege! She is fun.

  5. Dave, it was so nice to be with you at the Book Reviewers meeting!! Yes, Rose-Mary is the greatest! And Jack, her husband, will be missed. My husband, Rodney, sang with groups where Jack played drums. It’s hard trying to keep up with Rose-Mary!!

  6. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Rose-Mary speak – she is wonderful!

  7. You’re not kidding! Her books are the best Dallas History around (Darwyn Payne isn’t the only Dallas Historian!) and her tours are awesome!

  8. Dave: I’ve heard you speak many times and really appreciate your message! I am trying to get in touch with Rosemary Rumbley to see if she could speak at our OWLS group (1st United Methodist, Arlington). Could you PLEASE either give me her contact info or if you’d rather have her call me, my cell is (682)367-6248. Thanks so much! Blessings to you & your family!!

  9. I would like to know if Rose-Mary still conducts bus tours. If so, how can I find out about them?

  10. I would like to contact Rose Mary Rumbly. How can I get her email address. Thanks.

    Joan Galbraith

  11. I would like Rosemary Rimbly’s email address. Thanks.
    Joan Galbraith

  12. Would youmind giving me Rose-Mary’s email address? We would love her to come speak in Ft. Worth. THANK YOU!!! debby brown

  13. Dave can you please give me Rose-Mary’s contact information. Our Women’s Club at Robson Ranch in Denton would love to have her speak at one of our luncheons.

    Thank you,
    Linda Overfield

  14. Someone give these people Rose-Mary’s email!!!
    The FRISCO LAKES BOOK CLUB has gone on her Bus Tour of Dallas for the past six years and I learn something new every time!
    Rose-Mary is the BEST!!!!

  15. I read her book “Dallas, Too” which I picked up at the McKinney Senior center. She is really good! I am the grandson of a Texas Farmer from Melissa, Texas. We are related to Cyrus McCormick who invented the reaper. I have a relative in Melissa cemetery with a civil war marker (Warren Loftice) and many of my relatives are buried at Pecan Grove cemetery in McKinney. My dad (Chuck Esralian) is 88 years old and plays the drums every Wednesday at the Hinton Home in Farmersville. Their band is called “Mary & the Good old boys”. Mary Hughes is the singer and her relatives own the Hinton Home. You should do a story on them!

  16. Hello Mr.Lieber

    I am with a Hill Country book club and would like to know how we might contact Rose Mary Rumbley. Thank you.

    Mary Ann Green

  17. Dave,

    I see that last update for Rose May was 2013. She will be at our Carrollton-Farmers Branch Rotary on Thursday at noon at Brookhaven Country Club. So she is still at it going strong. Thanks you so much for speaking to our Club recently, and for your Watchdog Reports.


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