Grandpa Jones' funeral
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 98 12:00:14 -0800
Subject: Grandpa Jones' funeral
Forwarded-by: "Blech, Kerry E" <Kerry.Blech@PSS.Boeing.com>
Nashville can still do some things right, and one of them was saying
goodbye to an old friend with dignity, grace, and good spirits. Grandpa
Jones' funeral was in the new Opry house -- the first such service ever held
there -- and it was a genuinely moving ceremony. Marty Stuart "presided" --
he has more than a touch of Mississippi preqcher in him any way -- and there
eulogies and good songs and a few Grandpa stories. Ricky Skaggs and the
Whites performed "Gone Home," and the Rev. Jimmy Bass, the Jones pastor for
a number of years, talked. "He ran the good race; he finished the course;
he fought the good fight; and he kept the faith." Then Marty came forward
with just his mandolin and did a haunting version of "Guide Me Great
Jehovah" which merged into a medley of Grandpa songs: Eight More Miles,
Blue Yodel No. l, Mountain Dew, Rattler.
Then Sam Louvallo came up and did a wonderful tribute; many of the old
Hee Haw cast were there, sitting right in front of the casket, and at the
end of his tribute he stepped forward and asked the Hee Haw cast to stand.
They did and gave Grandpa one last rousing cornfield "SAL-lute."
Next came Jim and Jesse, who did a haunting version of "Falling
Leaves." It was perfect, the golden moment of the service. Never better.
Gary Champan came on next, anmd he seemed distracted and uncaring like
he didn't really know why he was there. The Rev. John Christian talked next
-- an old-time preacher with a booming voice. At the end, Ricky and the
Whites returned and did "Come and Dine," accompanied by Ruth McClain Smith
and Larry Sledge (playing some Grandpa banjo). (Both Ruth and Larry work a
lot with Ramona.)
The Opry house was about full on the lower level, which means about
3,000 people were there. The Jones family -- a large one from Kentucky --
and the Hee Haw cast and the Opry cast were seated in the front. Even Garth
Brooks showed up, and said something that needed to be said: "Grandpa's
loss leave a very deep hole in the Opry, and if we're gonna fill it we're
gonna half to work ten times harder."
Down front, Grandpa's casket was closed, covered with a flag; up on
stage in the spot light was a chair with his old Vega, his seven-league
boots, his little hat, and his suspenders. The burial was at a little
country cemetary not far from where he lived, and was for family only.
Another time, I'll tell you about the visitation (in one corner, Earl
Scruggs and Mac Wiseman swapping Pa stories; in another Tater Tate and Mac
Magaha talking). It has been an awful ordeal for the family; Ramona looks
like she's lost 20 pounds. She insisted, though, in greeting every single
person at the visitation, and at the lying in state at the Ryman.
I'm too tired to figure out how to distrbute this to our friends; feel
free to share it with those among us who knew and respected Grandpa's art.
© 1998 Peter Langston