‘She was a legend’: Loretta Lynn honored in hometown

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 11:05 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11

VAN LEAR, Ky. (WYMT) - From Coal Miner’s Daughter to country music darling, Loretta Lynn made a name for herself in the entertainment world and beyond.

“She spoke out for the women and I know there’s a lot of women that- their lives were directed because of some of the songs Loretta sang about,” said Loretta’s niece Hermalee Hale.

That star power, shining far past the Eastern Kentucky mountains, served as a glimpse of what is possible as fans saw a role model in the Johnson County celebrity.

“She came from so little, here in Kentucky, and grew into an icon for women. You know, a legend. She was a legend in her own time,” said Hale.

While her name and music expanded around the world, the place where she was rooted has always honored the contributions she made. Hale and her family continue to operate Lynn’s former homeplace as a museum of music and memories to the country star, with memorabilia also packed into the family’s store, Webb’s Grocery.

“If your home, where you were born, becomes a monument, you know you’ve done something. You’ve done something real good in the world,” said Michigan musician Joe Kidd, who was driving through Johnson County with his music partner Sheila Burke when the news came through.

“Would you believe we were just passing through? We were heading home this morning,” said Burke.

She said the alert came through just as they were nearing the Butcher Holler signs and they knew they had to do something to honor the “Van Lear rose.”

“I was born and raised in this area and Mrs. Loretta Lynn had such a big impact on my life,” she said.

People from all around gathered in the area Tuesday, after news of her death hit the headlines, visiting her home place and the old time family grocery store, hoping to feel a small connection with the country sensation.

“I was so darn proud of her, that a local girl made it good. And she always was so genuine. And she sang from her heart and she was so good to people,” said Burke. “We just felt so honored to be here. I wish I had a dozen roses. I wish I had two dozen roses to leave at the gates of her birthplace.”

Her people say her legacy will live on as her music forever echoes through Butcher Holler.

“Through her music through her acts, she’s with us all here,” said Hale. “She’s really been with us all here for quite a while, here at the home place.”