Music legend Jimmie Rodgers died 75 years ago this Memorial Day. He was born in Meridian in 1897 and died in New York in 1933. His body was laid to rest at the Oak Grove Cemetery. The Jimmie Rodgers Foundation lays a wreath there every year.
Many of his fans and some family members gathered to commemorate the landmark date.
Second cousin, Anne Shine Landrum lives in Meridian, but hasn't been able to attend the wreath laying ceremony in 3 years because of health problems. Landrum said she's thrilled she was able to build up some strength to attend. Landrum says she remembers the good times the family shared.
"It was really a wonderful childhood to grew up into," said Landrum. "And you never knew at my house what was going to happen. They had what they called the pickin' and grinnin', and if you could not pick, you grinned and that's where they got the name for it."
86-year-old Elsie White attended Jimmie Rodgers' funeral when she was eleven back in 1933. White says Rodgers had a special place in her family's heart.
"I was so young. I remember him coming back to see us. He would park in our driveway and he would come back to see us every time he came home," said White. "My daddy was a good friend of his. They picked and played together."
Jimmie Rodgers Foundation president Betty Lou Jones said, not only is Jimmie Rodgers known as The Father of Country Music, but also was a pioneer of American music.
"Jimmie Rodgers is the most famous citizen of Meridian and maybe one of the most famous Mississippians," said Jones. "And people all over the world think about Meridian, Miss., when they think about Jimmie Rodgers. And he is internationally known as being, as Bob Dylan says, 'the man who started it all', as far as our American style of music is concerned."