By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Tammy Wynette, who was born on a cotton farm in Itawamba County, studied in Tupelo to be a beautician and ultimately became a country music legend, will have a portion of a Northeast Mississippi highway named after her.
Gov. Haley Barbour has signed legislation naming a section of state Highway 23 in Itawama County “the Tammy Wynette Memorial Highway.” The bill authorizes the Department of Transportation to erect signs on the portion of Highway 23 from state Highway 178 to the Alabama-Mississippi border after the country music legend.
“She was a good lady, a good singer,” said Sen. J.P. Wilemon, D-Belmont, who was the primary sponsor of the legislation. “I just finally figured she deserved that.”
Wynette grew up in Wilemon’s district between Tremont and Belmont, near where Wilemon called Bounds Crossroads.
Wynette was born Virginia Wynette Pugh in 1942; she died in 1998. She had multiple No. 1 hits, won numerous awards, including multiple Grammy Awards, and was an inductee in the Country Music Association Hall of Fame
Wilemon said he never knew Wynette growing up, but met members of her family and met her on several occasions when she returned to Red Bay, Ala., for a fundraiser for the school system in the community where she purchased her mother a house and where her daughter attended school for several years.
Wilemon said Red Bay claims the Mississippi country music legend as its own. He said she spent a lot of time in nearby Red Bay when growing up on a farm in Itawamba County. But she studied to be a beautician in Tupelo before she made it big in country music.
And, according to her Web site, even after hitting it big, she continued to keep her beautician’s licensed updated just in case.
“She was a well-liked person,” Wilemon sad. “She came up like most of us – poor – but she did real well.”