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Pike County music icon dies at 81, buried in private service at Billstown

Glen Campbell and members of his family perform in a benefit homecoming concert August 25, 2006 at the Nashville City Park.

By PJ Tracy
Murfreesboro Diamond

BILLSTOWN — Legendary musician, actor and entertainer Glen Travis Campbell was laid to rest at a private family service last Wednesday, Aug. 9, at the Campbell Family Cemetery in the community of Billstown.

Campbell, who had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease since his diagnosis in 2011, passed away on Aug. 8 at age 81 at a care facility in Nashville, Tenn.

In a statement on Campbell’s website, the family confirmed the news to the world, asking for prayers and respect for the family’s privacy.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the CareLiving.org donation page.”

In addition, following his burial, the public was informed of him being laid to rest locally a day later on his official Facebook site.

“The Campbell family would like to thank everyone for their enormous outpouring of love and support. Glen was laid to rest on Wednesday in a private ceremony in his hometown of Delight, Ark. A private memorial will follow.”

According to his website, Campbell is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, Tenn.; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; 10 grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

Several high profile visitors have reportedly been seen around Delight as people arrive to pay their respects, including ex-girlfriend Tanya Tucker.

Delight Mayor Paul Lane said that Campbell was “a well-thought-of man” who did a lot for Delight and the surrounding community.

“It’s sad that he passed away, very sad.”

Lane said that he had met Campbell only twice, but noted that he was “a very courteous man,” and noted that “he was still the same” despite all the fame, and spoke very highly of both Campbell and his family that still resides in the area.

“I met him [for the second time] last summer down on the river, and he was with his nephew and Josh Campbell, and he was the same friendly person. I liked the man — I liked him a lot, but of course, I never met a Campbell yet that I didn’t like. His brothers and sister — they’re all the same. I just think the world of his brothers Shorty and Gerald. Jane Rather is a very nice lady, and his daughter Kelli is just as nice as she can be. I think the world of them. I’ve never worked with anyone that I thought more of than Josh Campbell … and I’ve worked with some good people in my 60 years of work.”

Pike County Judge Dewight Mack said that Campbell was simply destined to become a star.

“He was one of the best singers not only in Pike County, but in Arkansas and the United States; simply one of the best musicians in the world. He started out with about a $5 guitar his dad got from Sears, and later on in life when he went out to New Mexico and Arizona to work, but his bosses couldn’t get him to work — they’d find him out in a field under a tree playing his guitar. They just never could get him to work, he played the guitar and sang every day, and that just tells me God gave him a gift and he went with it.

He just knew from the time he was four or five years old, that’s just what he was going to do … and he made a good career out of it, enjoyed things you or I will never get to see and never get to do, because of his talent,” Mack said. “He was above and beyond what most people were with their talent.”

Judge Mack said he would love to eventually have a “celebration of Glen” honor with perhaps a Glen Campbell Day by proclamation in Pike County.

“I’m very proud to know that I’m from Pike County and he was too,” Mack concluded.

Pike County Treasurer Loleita Rather, who is related to Campbell, said it much more simply.

“I was proud to know him, and he was very good to his family — he was a very sweet person. God bless him and his family, it’s a tough time. I am very grateful for the Pike County Sheriff’s Department and what they did for the family.”