A wonderfully talented illustrator named Jerry Dowling came to the Opry earlier this month and presented me with the caricature of Whisperin’ Bill that you see here. I thought he did a terrific job on it, and I asked him to do one for Little Jimmy Dickens in honor of Jimmy’s 94th birthday. He drew this one, and I had it framed and presented it to Jimmy the night we celebrated his birthday. He really liked it, and autographed a copy of it for Jerry. Jerry plans to come out with an entire book of caricatures of country stars in the near future. I’m going to scribble a few notes in the margins just for fun. I’ll keep you posted as to when the book will be published and how you might get a copy.
Happy Anderson smiles were evident everywhere on Saturday May 15th when my grandson, Blake, received his high school diploma. My son, Jamey, and I were grinning and celebrating with him. Grandson Gabe’s bone marrow transplant was ten days later, and the hospital team treated it as a celebration too, with signs like the one pictured here. And I love the third picture where B. J. Thomas is singing “When Two Worlds Collide” on the Country’s Family Reunion show that honored my 50-years in the music business. A 19-year old Bill Anderson is appearing to look over his shoulder and smile his approval. B. J. was a tremendous talent, and he will be missed by those of us who knew, respected, and loved him.
“The Chick-fil-A restaurant in Hermitage, Tennessee, devoted an entire day to my grandson, Gabe, back on April 10th, outfitting their employees in specially made Team Gabe t-shirts and donating a percentage of their profits that day to the family’s medical expenses. They urged the community to come together in supporting Gabe’s upcoming transplant procedure, a kind and generous gesture by a wonderful company. Many of our longtime fan club members will remember Cathy Cox who worked in my office back in the late sixties and early seventies. Cathy’s mom, Frances Cox, was my fan club president for several years and contributed so much to my early career. I hadn’t seen Cathy (now Cathy Allen) in over 40-years, but she recently flew to Nashville from her home in Colorado to spend a long weekend, and I had the pleasure of meeting her for lunch. Needless to say, we relived a lot of old memories. And speaking of memories, how about this old picture of me and Roy Acuff from back in the sixties? He was one of my musical heroes, but neither of us dreamed when this picture was taken that we would end up recording together a timeless song called, “I Wonder If God Likes Country Music.” Mr. Roy’s legacy will live forever at the Grand Ole Opry.”
“I was both surprised and honored when I learned that Connie Smith’s recording of my song, ‘Once A Day,’ has been selected for inclusion inside the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in Washington. Although it’s her recording that is being preserved, they included my name on the plaque as having written the song. I’m in some pretty select company here, and both proud and grateful. I’m grateful, too, for the toughness my grandson, Gabe, has shown in completing his five weeks of radiation therapy prior to his bone marrow transplant coming up in May. They gave him the certificate he is holding here as proof of his “graduation,” and the smile on his face tells you how proud he is of his achievement. In case you haven’t figured it out, Gabe is my hero. Another special person in my life is pictured in the bottom photo, the guitar player in my band since 1981, Les Singer. It’s hard to believe Les has been with me for 40-years, but he has. I love this picture, and wanted to share it with you. Thanks, Lester, for all the miles, the music and the memories.”