Jean Shepard passed away Sept. 25 at age 82 after entering hospice care earlier in the week.
At age 14 Jean was spotted by country star Hank Thompson singing and playing bass in the all-girl band she’d formed called the Melody Ranch Girls. A stint on the Springfield, Missouri Ozark Jubilee was followed by Grand Ole Opry membership in 1955. Her hit duet “A Dear John Letter” with Ferlin Husky was the first post-World War II country record featuring a female vocalist to sell a million copies.
Jean became a member of the Opry on November 21, 1955 and last appeared on November 21, 2015 when she became the only female to reach 60 years of Opry membership. In 2011, she was inducted
into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jean is survived by husband Benny Birchfield and sons Don Robin Hawkins, Harold Franklin Hawkins II and Corey Birchfield.