By NEMS Daily Journal
The death last week of the great country singer George Jones immediately brought to mind his marriage to the late Tammy Wynette, Itawamba County’s own most famous daughter, and their professional collaboration that lasted longer than their marriage.
Wynette’s memory endures today as “The First Lady of Country Music,” and her birthplace roots are near Tremont, where, as Wynette Pugh, she was selected Miss Tremont High School. The area is considered the wellspring for her fans.
Wynette, who died at a premature 55 in 1998, remains a beloved figure in Tremont, a friend of many and for some, a relative who never forgot her hometown and its relationships.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, has been one among many legislators from Northeast Mississippi supporting the idea that Wynette should be honored with a museum housing her memorabilia from the sparkling 30-year career that made her one of the all-time greats of country music. Holland said this week the legislative effort to fund a museum in Tremont would continue.
Wynette was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame within months of her death and arguably should have been inducted during her lifetime.
In 2012, ground was broken on property procured in Tremont for a park honoring Wynette’s memory and as the site of a museum when funds are available.
George Jones, it is worthy of note, performed at Itawamba Community College to help raise money for the park. Buster Davis, the Mr. Everything at ICC and in Itawamba County, leads the civic effort to build a museum.
Senior U.S. District Judge Mike Mills, a Fulton native, has noted in one of his published recollections, that Wynette has many followers in Alabama, which is almost within shouting distance of her birthplace.
Efforts to provide $5 million in state bond funds for a museum didn’t survive in the 2013 legislative session, but that figure is probably fully realistic.
Wynette was born 71 years ago May 5.
The funding effort for a museum worthy of Wynette’s fame won’ be an overnight task, but raising her profile with the Legislature and statewide elected officials is the logical political starting place.
A museum under construction by the 75th anniversary of her birth is a reasonable goal with main effort by her homestate fans.