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Tammy Wynette

Tammy Wynette
May 5, 1942 - April 6, 1998
"I spent 15 minutes writing Stand By Your Man, and a lifetime defending it."

 

Tammy was the First Lady of Country Music.  Her last record was called, "One," a duet with her ex husband George Jones. Her last performance was on March 5th, 1998, having stepped in for Loretta Lynn, who was ill, at a concert in Plant City Florida.

The house Tammy lived in was located on Franklin Road, number 4916, in Nashville. 

These are the only pictures I could get of the house. Not very close. Sorry.

 FYI: Hank Williams used to live in that house, prior to Tammy. The "First Lady" sign that used to grace the gates has been removed, 

but her tour bus was still in the driveway in June of 1999. Look closely at the photograph and you can see the words, "First Lady" on the front of the bus. 

And of course, here's her mailbox.

Metro police say they got a call from the National Enquirer asking if Tammy Wynette had died almost TWO HOURS before a lawyer who had represented the singer called to report her death. A police department spokesperson states, "Obviously, a lot of people were notified before the Police Department." One of Tammy's daughters said that her mother's body lay on a living room sofa for several hours, with visitors going in and out, until her personal physician flew there from Pennsylvania.

One daughter, Jackie Daly, stopped by to see Tammy at noon on April 6th and found her asleep on the sofa. She stayed a few minutes and asked Richey to let Wynette know that she had stopped by. Daly went out to dinner and returned home to find a message on her machine that her mother had died. Nice. She went to the house at 9:30pm and her mother's body was still on the sofa, covered, and in a fetal position. "People were coming in and out, drinking coffee and smoking," she said.

She died on April 6th, 1998, "while sitting on the sofa with her husband. She had a smile on her face." That's what her husband George Richey said at the memorial service, however, her autopsy report states that she died alone and Cleta Ramsey (a maid?) was the last person to see her alive. Tammy was only 55 when she died, but had lived the lives of 5 people that age. Illness upon illness upon illness. It was (almost) endless.

Her body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office, and examined the next morning. (Correction: Tammy's body was NOT taken to the ME's, but released directly to the funeral home after Marsh arrived and pronounced her dead.) Tammy's personal physician, Dr. Wallace Marsh flew in from Pennsylvania. That's where he lived, but he was licensed to practice medicine in Tennessee. Dr. Marsh contacted the Medical Examiners office and related that he had been treating Tammy for several years "for a variety of ailments, including intestinal dysmotility with numerous complications, most serious of which were problems with adequate nutrition and blood clotting." His opinion was that she died of "pulmonary embolus," or a clot in the lung. That was it. The Examiner agreed, no autopsy, done and dusted.

I've received two emails from people claiming to have been associated with Tammy. One from a kind person who worked for Tammy, and the other, from a person claiming to be George Richey, Tammy's widower. I have no reason to doubt that it's him. I'm just surprised that he felt the need to respond to this website. Don't get me wrong, I am glad. I hate misinformation, so I was hoping for clarification on a few details. Well, read on.

Email 1

"Hello, I am someone who has worked for Tammy and Richey.  They were very good to me and have been like a family to me and my friends and family. I have been around most of the country legends here in Nash. and I can tell you Tammy was a good as they come. I sure do miss her. I hope that you will help folks to remember the good that she has brought to millions of us. We all have problems in our lives, Tammy had hers, but she lived the way she wanted to. No one made her do anything against her wishes, believe me she was a very very strong woman.  MG"

Email 2

Dear Scott:

I am truly appalled at your story on my late wife, Tammy Wynette. You are so far from reality you wouldn't know reality if it was your Mother.

First of all, let me assure you. Cleta, the housekeeper, was not at our home when I discovered Tammy. She arrived about 25 minutes after I discovered Tammy lifeless in our home. I WAS THERE WITH TAMMY!!!!!!!

To correct another of your many mistakes in your article, Dolly, Loretta and June Carter Cash were not at her entombment. They were at her memorial service!!! Where you are getting these so called 'facts are well known but totally inaccurate!! The performers you mention were at her memorial service!!

I am not now nor have I ever been engaged to Sheila Slaughter. 

* My response* FEB 2001

From January 19, 2001, Tennessean:

WYNETTE'S WIDOWER WEDS IN TINY CEREMONY

Tim McGraw brought more people to the wedding than the bride did.

In a small ceremony at a small church in small College Grove, Tenn., George Richey, Tammy Wynette's widower, married his girlfriend, Sheila Slaughter.

Sheila, 34, a TV producer/ex-Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, says she got the 5-carat ring during a holiday stay at a bed-and-breakfast in her Texas hometown. (That's right, I said 5 carats. Zoinks!)

Sheila, a truly lovely lady, said she pushed for a speedy, small wedding.

"I said, 'If you put it off, it'll be another $5,000 because I'll plan bigger. If you do it next Tuesday, it'll only be $2,000.' He said, 'How about next Tuesday?' "

Tim sang "It's Your Love", sans his wife, Faith Hill, who was tending to a sick child.
"I'm glad she didn't show up," Sheila joked. "She would've made me look bad."

The crowd: about 20 friends.
Officiating: Pastor Steve Carr from Grassland Heights Baptist Church in Franklin, the church Sheila and Richey attend.
Best man: John Paul, ex-hubby to Jackie Daly, one of Tammy and Richey's daughters.
Maids of honor: Lydia Bennett and Amy Vandiver, both Texas schoolteachers and childhood friends of Sheila.
Number of other Dallas Cowboy cheerleader friends there: one.
Bride's quote: "It was simple and sweet and spiritual."

thanks to Jackie and Jimmy Freeman and Myra Mains for that article- S

Also March 2000 from Findadeath.com friend Laurie Tanner:  Another side note to the Tammy Wynette's widower, George Ritchey.  I read that they both considered that Tammy's spirit was present at their wedding and they said a prayer to her to ask her to bless their union. 

riiiiight... whatever it takes.

Back to George's email:

"I am not in the process of writing a book!!! The message was left on Jackie's answering device by her sister---NO ONE ELSE!!!

I would love to have a man to man talk with you in person, that is, assuming you call yourself a MAN!! I don't view you as a man!!

George Richey"

My response to Mr. Richey:

"You are entitled to you opinions of my manhood. I don't begrudge you that at all. A person raked over the coals like yourself, is bound to be angry about misinformation. I got the information about Cleta being the last person that saw Tammy, directly from the autopsy report. I pride myself on doing a lot of research for these stories, and I too despise misinformation. Mr. Richey, I would be happy to change the Tammy story, if you would like to share the corrections with me. You were there, I was not.

Scott Michaels"

His reply:

"Dear Scott;

At 4916 Franklin Road, our home since 1992, there was never, ever the sign,"First Lady Acres" you spoke of at that house. It had the initials 'TW' and only that. MISINFORMATION!!!" (JEEEEZ!  FINE! - sm) "Our previous home about 3 miles north at 4121 Franklin Road did have "First Lady Acres" and the initials 'TW' on those gates. I believe you misread the ME's report. I was there alone at the time with Tammy. The live-in housekeeper was away for about 1 hour. I have never seen in print, other than your schlock, any information that I was not at home when Tammy passed away. MISINFORMATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could go on and on about your misinformation but that will change nothing. Your suppliers of information are not accurate AT ALL!!!!" (They may be wrong, but the official documentation, that Tammy died alone, exists. HERE it is. - sm)

"Tammy was not laid away in one of her stage 'frocks'. MISINFORMATION!!!!!!" (Frock means dress, and yes she was - sm)

"Your comment "His and Hearse"--is that supposed to be funny? I find no levity in that reference at all." (It shouldn't. You don't know them.)

"I have NEVER written 'gushing' notes . I have left cards and signed the registry book. Where you you get the "sappy, melodramatic things" you mention. You never saw it. And even if you did, what about that "seems sort of odd, doesn't it?" Your quote!!!!!!" (I did see it. The notes were in the guest book, which was clearly left for the public to read, and here is a sample. 

I'm a little uncomfortable putting that picture up, only because they are sentiments. I've had them forever, but here you go, just to prove a point.)

"I had my lawyer ask the ME to do an autopsy after the ME refused, on two occasions, requests from Tammy's daughters to disinter Tammy. It was totally against Tammy's wishes but I did so anyway to please Tammy's children. A very painful decision!!!"

"A wake was held at Woodlawn the night before Tammy's memorial services. Not a single famous personality was there. It was just for family. However, you state that many Country performers were there. Not so at all. They were at the Memorial, as were people from all over the US and foreign countries. MISINFORMATION!!!!!" (That information was given to me directly from a woman working at Woodlawn. Directly. She is the one that showed me where Tammy was laid out, and I saw no reason to doubt her.)

"What you write is a disgrace to Tammy.

George Richey"

Another article of interest:

Issue Date: April 13, 2000
Section: City Limits

Country Palace

Tammy Wynette's house goes for $1.2 million

Another chapter in the life and death of Tammy Wynette has closed with the sale of her house for $1.2 million to a Nashville book publishing executive.

The house is full of memories, perhaps too many for Richey to bear. It's as if Wynette is still there, and virtually every wall is covered in Wynette's gold records, awards, or photographs. "If you walk in, everything is Tammy," a friend says. "I imagine if he wanted to move on, it would be hard to do in that house. Also, it's a big house with a lot of upkeep for one person."

Friends say Richey is talking to auction houses like Sotheby's to sell many of Wynette's belongings. Meanwhile, the Nashville publishing executive, who wished not to be named, was expected to move from Belle Meade into the house by June after the sale's closing.

Thanks again Jackie and Jimmy Freeman - s

And yet more ammo from Tennessee via Jackie and Jimmy - March 2001

Sheila has a little Richey on the way

Tammy Wynette's widower, George Richey, and his wife of two months, Sheila Slaughter Richey, are expecting a baby.

"Do you believe it?" Sheila said, laughing.

"I guess that puts all those rumors to rest. I figured I'd be another Celine Dion, having all these tests done. But it worked!"

"So Richey'll be 150 when the kid graduates, but that's OK."

Sheila said the baby is due in October. George wants a boy; Sheila wants a girl.

"This is far better than anything that's ever happened to me," Sheila said, turning serious. "I couldn't be happier."

I raise my middle finger to you, Mr. Richey.  You are the disgrace.

Big thanks to Findadeath.com friends, "His and Hearse" (you know who you are), in Nashville. They helped so much with obtaining the information used in this story. I couldn't imagine having cocktails during a hurricane in Nashville, with anyone else.

Cut to September 3, 1999 - Jackie is penning a book called "My Mother's Story," which will delve into the death, in depth. The daughters were really upset with Richie when he broke down on stage at the Ryman, during the memorial service. They felt that the funeral should have been totally focused on Tammy, and Richey's appearance was stealing Tammy's thunder. One of them remarked, "If he doesn't get off that stage, I'm gonna have to pull him off."

August 2010 George Richey is now dead.  Ding Dong.  Thanks to Kaydaver for the info. 

A private funeral service was held early in the day of Thursday April 9th, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville. 

Tammy was laid out in one of her stage frocks, in the Dogwood Room at the funeral home. 

She was wheeled into the chapel for a service that was packed to the gills with Country and Western performers, including her closest friends, June Carter Cash, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Oh I just love Dolly. 

After the service, she was wheeled down the hall, and interred in a wall crypt.

A public memorial service was held later that afternoon, at the former home of the Grand Ol Opry, The Ryman Auditorium, in downtown Nashville. 

Rentamouth Randy Travis was there (was there any morning show he didn't hit that day?) with his "wife", and among some of the performers were Dolly, Lorrie Morgan, and the Oak Ridge Boys, Wynona and Naomi Judd (both annoyingly wore sunglasses throughout). Loretta Lynn was too upset to perform. Other guests included Barbara Mandrell, George Jones, Kenny Rogers (ugh.). Naomi Judd eulogized her, and went on for HOURS about how close they were. All in all, a very nice service, but Dolly was the best.

Update - for many weeks after Tammy's death, George Richey visited Tammy's grave and wrote extensive gushing notes in the visitor's registry at her graveside. Really sappy, melodramatic things.

Cut to December 1998 -

The Medical Examiner (ME) receives letters from each of Tammy's 3 daughters "expressing concern over the cause of their mother's death and asking that an autopsy be performed." During a meeting at the ME's, they "expressed concerns about narcotics administered to their mother for control of pain and the sequence of events that transpired the day she passed away." The ME contacts the Dr. Marsh in PA, who states regret that a complete list of drugs was not made available on the night of her death. The ME suspects that only "minimal" information was made available.

The daughters also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Tammy's husband and her doctor as well.

Having had enough of this speculation, Tammy's husband and legal next of kin, George Richey, contacted the ME and requested that Tammy's body be disinterred and an autopsy be performed to resolve lingering questions regarding her death. He stated, "I'm profoundly saddened her children are willing to drag their mother's closely-guarded private life into the public eye, leaving me no choice but to respond." A year and 8 days after her death, it was done. I would have killed to be there.

They found nothing exciting. The ME concluded that she had died "as a result of right-sided heart failure." He also states that "The relative contributions to her death from the underlying natural diseases and the medications present in her body at the time of her death cannot be ascertained," which basically meant that because she was so filled with the forever goop, they couldn't tell. There you go. Case closed. End of story.

In May of 99, the wrongful death lawsuit dropped George Richey, but continued against Dr. Marsh, for prescribing too many damn drugs.

Update March 2001 from Findadeath.com friend Scott H:

I just thought I'd drop you a note with some "unprofessional insight" on something I saw in Tammy Wynette's autopsy report:

In my hardly-ever-humble opinion, it sure looks to me like her doc from Pennsylvania was a big-time quack.  She was getting some PO-TENT drugs from him...probably either too potent or too many.  Why else would you maintain a relationship with a doctor from two or three states away instead of seeing someone locally?

Why do I think this?  Because of the last sentence in the "Probable Cause of Death" box:  "Intestinal dysmotility on chronic pain management."  As someone who's been in chronic pain for 8 years and has been through his share of pain medications and treatments, I think I can phrase this a little
more clearly and a little LESS delicately:  Tammy was likely experiencing intestinal shutdowns because she was taking heavy, heavy doses of narcotics. Probably too many for her tiny size and frail condition.  Anyone who's even been on short-term courses of codeine can attest to the fact that it's
constipating as hell.  In fact, up until the mid-twentieth century, doctors would give morphine to patients with severe dysentery (The Runs, The Hershey Squirts, The Big Fudge Volcano, you get the picture) because they knew it would stop them up!  And when you take lots of narcotics over a long period of time, you have to live on softeners and laxatives to keep things "moving."  The word "dysmotility" literally means lack of ("dys") movement ("motility," closely related to "mobility").  This constant stopping-up can cause all sorts of other ailments, not the least of which is colon cancer.

All this nasty intestinal s**t (no pun intended) may not have killed Tammy, but it sure sheds light on how drugged-up she must have been.

Very interesting, Scott.  Thanks a load.
in Beautiful Downtown Cleveland, Ohio

Incidentally, there was a memorial service held for Tammy Wynette, in London, in July of 1998. It was held at St. James's Church in Picadilly, and attended by George Richey and Sir Cliff Richard.

Tammy's demise wasn't the first time she rode in a hearse. Back in 1992, my buddy Rob was assigned to Tammy as an assistant, when she was doing a television show here in the UK. Their limousine never showed, and Tammy was rushed to the studio in (the front seat of) a hearse. Imagine pulling over a speeding hearse on a winding country road, and finding Tammy Wynette in it. It didn't happen, but what a fantastic image it would have made.

Trivia: Tammy kept her beautician's license current for her whole life, just in case. She had a beauty salon built in her home, next to her bedroom.

More Trivia: She only ever wore "Estee Lauder Private Collection" perfume.

And more Trivia: She dated Burt Reynolds.

Thanks to friend of Findadeath.com Tina C., for this tidbit of information. There is a musical being produced about Tammy's life, which will hit London in October of 1999.

Here's a photograph of Tammy's footprints at the Grand Ol Opry, in Nashville. What was she wearing, socks?

This in, June 2002:  from Findadeath.com friend James Moore:  Hey Scott and fellow death hags,

Just wondering if anyone else saw last night's "Bravo Profiles" about Tammy. If not, here's some more info about the First Lady of Country Music. As they say, the plot thickens:

Tammy was married five times, and was physically abused by all five, including George Jones, who had been her idol when she was growing up. The charge of physical abuse against George Richey came from one of Tammy's daughters, who was interviewed for the show.. 

Tammy's main drug was Dilaudid (sp?) which is normally prescribed only to terminally ill people because of its addictive nature and long-term effects on the body. The digestive problems she had, which led to her 31 (yes, 31) stomach operations, was a direct result of her Dilaudid abuse. In her last operation, it took the doctor 11 minutes just to cut through the scar tissue left from previous operations. Towards the end of her life, Tammy had to be fed intravenously and had a catheter in her back for the introduction of her drugs directly into an artery, since her veins were practically destroyed. One night, George Richey actually drove her to five emergency rooms in one night to get the amount of painkillers she was craving. After Tammy's personal assistants confronted George about his enabling of Tammy's drug use, he promised to stop giving them to her, but actually just stopped giving them to her in front of her staff.

Tammy's daughter said that the well-publicized kidnapping, where Tammy was found by the highway 80 miles from Nashville, was faked and that the beatings Tammy said she received from her kidnappers actually came from Richey. She also said when Tammy got into trouble with the IRS, Richey tried to get her to call ex-boyfriend Burt Reynolds and get the money to pay them off from him. At one point Tammy made clothes for her grandkids because she couldn't use her credit cards to buy them.

Tammy's daughter also visited her mother on the day she died. She noticed her mom was lying motionless on the couch, with George sitting in a chair nearby, half out of it. Tammy was lying with her head on the end of the couch nearest the t.v., which was blaring very loudly, so it seemed unusual that Tammy could sleep so soundly through that. She left, came back some time later, and noticed Tammy still hadn't moved. She had to go to the airport to meet her ex-husband, and asked George to tell Mom when she woke up that she had been there and that she loved her. George just nodded and went back to half-dozing in front of the tube. After picking up her ex and driving back with him to her house, she found a message on the answering machine telling her that her mother had passed away. She returned to her mom's house to find folks standing around in the room, with one of her sisters rubbing Tammy's feet. Tammy was still lying on the couch, in the exact same position, meaning she was probably already dead when her daughter first came to visit (and also further proves that George's claim that she died sitting next to him on the couch with a smile on her face was a lie). George was already on the phone, saying he didn't want an autopsy performed "because she's got enough scar tissue on her now."

Some facts that have turned up since Tammy's death:

Dr. Marsh diagnosed her death as coming from a blood clot, from his office *in Pennsylvania* *over the phone.* The death certificate was not co-signed by the funeral home director, in violation of Tennessee state law.

A few months before her death, Tammy had walked around the house with her daughters, writing down a list on a legal pad of things she wanted them to have after she died. Some valuable things, but mostly sentimental things like pictures from family outings and from her marriage to George Jones. The legal pad could not be found after she died. Tammy's will stated that unless such a list could be found, everything went to George. Some have commented that that particular clause was completely out of character for Tammy. While the will stated that upon George's death everything would be divided among Tammy's daughters, it also said that if George remarried and had kids, he had the right to draw up his own will and leave the Wynette fortune to anyone he chose. Enter Sheila and the baby.

The day after Tammy was buried, George was dancing around the house in a jogging suit with Tammy's duet with the KLF, "Moo Moo Land (aka Justified and Ancient)" playing. Strange way to mourn.

In the weeks before Tammy's death, and on the day she died, several purchases for women's clothes were made on her credit card. There has been speculation that Richey's relationship with Sheila Slaughter may have begun a few weeks before Tammy's death.

After doctors and hospitals began refusing to prescribe drugs for Tammy, George enlisted the services of Dr. Marsh, whose office was over 600 miles from Nashville. He gave Tammy her prescriptions and referred her to a Nashville medical supply firm which shipped her all the drugs, after Tammy signed a waiver absolving them of any liability from any ill effects she might suffer from the drugs. Just a few days before she died, a shipment of some mighty powerful drugs had been sent to her home.

The special noted that Richey had been approached about being interviewed for the special. He agreed only on the condition that he be paid a hefty fee and receive editorial control. Needless to say, he wasn't interviewed. But Tammy's daughter, her best friend, her publicist, two former personal assistants, Brenda Lee, Crystal Gale, Wynona Judd, Elton John, a country music historian, and a few other folks were interviewed, and their combined interviews could be summed up as, "Tammy was a good person, a brave soul, and a great talent. And George was a sleaze bag."

P.S.: While her most famous song was "Stand By Your Man," Tammy's favorite was "Til I Can Make It On My Own."

Exhausting job, James. Thanks for that.

This just in, January 2004, from Findadeath friend Rob Jerrell:

Just a tidbit about the house that Tammy died in....the land was owned by Hank Williams, but he never lived in that part of the house, Hank Jr. and his mother did, but not Hank Sr., Miss Audrey {Hank Jr's mamma} had the front added on to the small brick house that she and daddy Hank lived in after he died. The brick house was later moved to Music Roll, where in the early 90's it was turned into a bar! Nice memorial to ole Hank Sr...anyway the house that Tammy died in is where Miss Audrey herself died also laying on a sofa!!.....nice site love it keep it up....Robbie...