They’re not calling it a “funeral,” but rather a “Celebration of Life” ceremony today, before Grand Ole Opry staple Jean Shepard is laid to rest.
Shepard died Sunday after a long illness. Last year, she celebrated 60 years as a member of the Opry — and was the only female ever to reach that milestone with the legendary radio show. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.
Shepard had 73 songs on the country charts, with her first Number One coming at just 19 years old with “A Dear John Letter,” her duet with Ferlin Husky. Other memorable hits included “A Satisfied Mind,” “Beautiful Lies” and “Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar).” She recorded her final album in 1981 but continued touring until 2015.
A visitation was held Thursday in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Today, another short visitation will be held before a “Celebration of Life” ceremony at 1:00 p.m. CT at the Hendersonville Funeral Home.
Shepard is survived by her husband, Benny Birchfield, and sons Don Robin Hawkins, Harold Franklin Hawkins II and Corey Birchfield. The late singer’s first husband, Hawkshaw Hawkins Sr. died in the same 1963 plane crash that killed Patsy Cline.