Filmmaker Robert Maier is captivated by the story of the Jack Dellinger and his family’s historic grist mill, and wants share the story with others.
Robert has produced numerous feature films, television documentaries, and educational films. He was senior producer at Charlotte’s PBS TV station, for eight years, and was head of the Broadcasting Department at Gaston College for nine. His own production company took him from Honolulu to Kabul, to a Trappist monastery in South Carolina.
His most recent project, concerning 86-year old Jack Dellinger and his grist mill, came about totally by happenstance. He and Katherine are avid mountain hikers. They had stopped at a country restaurant near Roan Mountain in North Carolina, when Dellinger delivered an armful of cornmeal bags. The Maiers inquired about his identity, and found that the old Dellinger mill was just up the road– and still working. They visited the next day, to hear the unique story of the mill, and Jack’s life. He had a surprising career, growing up on a fourth-generation family farm, joined the Air Force after graduating from high school, earned an engineering degree from NC State, and was selected by Werner von Braun to work on NASA’s Apollo moon rocket program. After several decades developing software for NASA and IBM on projects including the GIS system, the first email, the first hard drive, and the first PCs
In 1847 the Dellinger family built a grist mill on their farm in the North Carolina mountains. Jack Dellinger is the fourth miller. But Jack didn’t take over the family enterprise directly. He left the farm in 1950 at age 17 to see the world. He did that—and more. He was away from the farm for 44 years before returning to undertake a nine-year project to restore the mill. Jack is now 86 years old. The Dellinger grist mill is the last water-powered grist mill in North Carolina.
Dellinger Mill is now on the National Register of Historic Places, but it’s largely obscure and unnoticed on a dead-end country road. Maier has been working for the past two years to help it gain more visibility through the film.
With about 8 hours of film so far, Robert is editing and script writing, weaving the compelling history and culture of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains in to Jack’s personal story.