Carlene's father Carl Smith passed away on Saturday, January 16, at his home in Franklin, Tennessee at the age of 82. Visitation and funeral services were held on the following Monday and Tuesday, with many family members, friends, and fans attending to pay their respects. The service was officiated by Grand Ole Opry and WSM radio announcer Eddie Stubbs, who shared the podium with one of Mr. Smith's sons, followed by Kix Brooks (of Brooks & Dunn), who first asked Mr. Smith's long-time friend Little Jimmy Dickens to speak. All three told humorous and touching stories of the father and friend they knew and loved, with some of Mr. Smith's recordings played throughout, including a moving gospel number with The Carter Family.
Other stars at the visitation and funeral included Gail Davies and son Chris Scruggs, Ralph Emery, Vince Gill, Jan Howard, James Intveld, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith and husband Marty Stuart; Carlene and many of her family including husband Joe Breen, children Tiffany and Jackson, sisters Lori Lynn Smith, Kathy and Cindy Cash, brothers Dean Smith, Carl Smith Jr., and John Carter Cash, cousin Lorrie Davis Bennett (daughter of Anita Carter), and many more.
The closed casket was surrounded by floral arrangements from family, friends, and fans including Jessi Colter and the family of Waylon Jennings, George Jones, C.C. Fan Club member Birgit Saehrendt in Germany, and the Franklin Police Department, SWAT, and K9 Units, with many of their officers present.
Also on display were photos of Mr. Smith's early career as a country singer, with wife Goldie Hill, and later images of the cowboy that he became when he retired from the music business to raise and show horses, all calling to mind something Mr. Smith was quoted as saying in 2003: "Call me lucky. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a hillbilly singer and a cowboy. I was fortunate enough to do both of them."
As a "hillbilly singer," he placed 99 songs on Billboard magazine's country charts between 1951 and 1978 (with 30 in the top-ten, and five hitting #1), was a member of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1950s, starred on television and in films, earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and much more before retiring from show business in the late 1970s. Carl Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003, an honor many considered long overdue, though as Mr. Smith said at the time: "I appreciate it very much. I was afraid I was going to have to die before this happened."