Sue Jordan and her father spent many years listening to Little Jimmy Dickens on the radio at the Grand Ole Opry. But their connection to the Opry legend was also personal.
Jordan, a school teacher, had Dickens’ granddaughter April as a student one year and it allowed her to arrange a meeting between her father and Dickens — two West Virginia natives with a passion for music.
“You would have thought he and my Dad had known each other for years,” said Jordan.
“My dad loved to play the harmonica and always listened to the Grand Ole Opry and Little Jimmy Dickens,” she said. “And that was the pleasure of my Dad to be able to meet him and speak with him and sing and play the harmonica with him.”
Jordan was among dozens of friends, fans, musicians and admirers who showed up to pay their respects to Dickens at his visitation at Woodlawn Cemetery Wednesday afternoon. Dickens died Friday at age 94, after being hospitalized with an illness.
Country music stars like Brad Paisley were among those who came to a private visitation earlier in the day. But the public visitation allowed fans who never met Dickens to say goodbye.
“I listened to him mostly on the radio and every now and then saw him,” said Bob McMurtury. “I thought he was quite a character.”
McMurtury said part of Dickens’ appeal was that he wanted to “smile and make people happy”
Dickens was the longest running performer at the Opry. He came to Nashville in 1948 after being recruited by Roy Acuff. Dickens’ funeral will be held at the Grand Ole Opry on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. It is also open to the public.