Saturday, September 17, 2011



This is another sad day in our country music industry.  One of the greatest and sweetest ladies at the Grand Ole Opry and in all of country music, has left us with sad hearts.  I was so lucky to have known her as my dear friend, and I know that the entire community of music is saddened by her loss.  The past several years she has had health issues which kept her from her music family, The Grand Ole Opry, but she was never and will never be forgotten, and there will always be a place in all of our hearts where she will be kept forever.  She was a special lady as so many of us know, and her smile will be a lasting picture for all of us to keep in our hearts and minds.

Please keep Carol Lee, her daughter, and all of the family in your thoughts and prayers at this time of sadness in their life’s.

MAY WILMA LEE’S REST IN PEACE IN THE HEAVENLY HOME OF OUR BLESSED SAVIOR. Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at her home in Sweetwater, Tenn. from natural causes. She had been a member of the Opry since 1957 and was 90 years old.  Her last solo performance on the Opry was at the Ryman Auditorium on Feb. 24, 2001.  Wilma Lee joined the Opry cast at the grand re-opening of the Opry House on Sept. 28, 2010 for a group sing-along.

Wilma Lee was preceded in death by her husband Stoney Cooper and is survived by her daughter Carol Lee Cooper, Hendersonville, Tenn.; granddaughter Vanessa Brusseau and her husband Mark of Hermitage, Tenn. and granddaughter Shannon Rogers and her husband Mark of Hendersonville, Tenn. Per Wilma Lee’s wishes there will not be a memorial service.  She will be remembered for her music and her faith.

Wilma Lee spent nearly her entire life singing and entertaining. Born Wilma Leigh Leary, she began working early as a member of West Virginia’s regionally-famed Leary Family. Her celebrated delivery of gospel and devotional songs emerged at the same time. First achieving national prominence in the 1940s performing with her late husband, champion fiddler Stoney (Dale T.) Cooper, Wilma Lee sang and played guitar with a bursting-at-the-seams energy. >From the outset, the Coopers had success with story songs, from “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree,” “Little Rosewood Casket,” and “Sunny Side of the Mountain” for Rich-R-Tone and Columbia Records in the 40s to “Wreck on the Highway” and “Philadelphia Lawyer” for Hickory in the early 1960s. It was likely Wilma Lee and Stoney’s rousing, old-style jubilee hits of the ‘50s and ‘60s including “There’s a Big Wheel ,” “This Old House,” and “Big Midnight Special” that audiences have responded to most of all.  Wilma Lee and Stoney were members of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Wilma Lee continued performing with her group the Clinch Mountain Clan after Stoney’s death in March 1977, and was appearing on the Opry regularly until a stroke suffered on stage in 2001 forced her to cease performing.

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