It started as a simple statement, and became one of the most touching conversations. David Smith started by saying “Tim – I own one of Hawkshaw Hawkin’s Stetson hats, still in the original Box. Inside the brim it says Beaver Stetson custom made for Hawkshaw Hawkins. It was a gift to me from Kitty and Smiley Wilson, close friends of his wife Jean Shepard.”
Our discussion continued, and many people were amazed. Here is what we said:
Me: David thanks for the comment, and what a nice gift that is. Folks, when David talks of Kitty and Smiley Wilson it ties back in to a story we ran the other day about John D. Loudermilk, and Charlie and Ira Louvin. Their last names were actually Loudermilk too.
Kathy Louvin performed with aunt and uncle Kitty and Smiley Wilson. Hawkshaw Hawkins fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge, and was returning from a benefit concert at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Kansas City when the tragic plan crash took the lives of Hawshaw, Patsy, and Cowboy Copas.
As David pointed out Jean Shepard was a close friend of Kitty and Smiley.
David Smith: Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copus and Randy Hughs (Patsy’s) rhythm guitarist and manager are all buried next to each other, 2 miles from my home. Smiley and Kitty Wilson are buried next to them.
I conducted Kitty’s funeral. It was an honor – many Opry folks were there. Rita Faye (child star in the 50’s) is the daugher of Smiley and Kitty Wilson. Rita Fay’s husband is the famous Earl Sinks. One of the Crickets (Buddy Holly)
Me: It is an honor to have you here David. Bless you my friend. I’m sure everyone will agree that this is one of the most touching discussions we’ve ever had.
David Smith: Thanks Tim. To me these people are heroes! Kitty was like a Mom to me. I’m sure I ate 50 meals from her table and she was a walking talking link to the 40’s 50’s and 60’s country music. Her sister Faye was married to Ira Louvin (Kathy Louvin’s) Mom and Dad.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of or miss Kitty. In many ways she was my best and dearest friend. She was a friend through thick and thin no matter what.