Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.
Today when you visit the Woodlawn Memorial Park mausoleum site where Tammy Wynette is buried, you won’t find the country music star’s name on it. Instead, you see the name Virginia W. Richardson. Wynette’s daughter, Georgette Jones Lennon, along with her sisters are fighting to restore her name and legacy. A Facebook group, A Restoration’ – Tammy Wynette’s Name and Legacy, has been gaining popularity among country music fans as they express their concerns of restoring the name.
When Tammy Wynette was buried, it originally had Tammy Wynette on her burial crypt. Two years later, it was changed to Virginia W. Richardson. Virginia was her real name, W was for Wynette, and Richardson was her legal married name while she was married to George Richey/Richardson.
According to an interview with The Tennessean newspaper, Georgette Jones Lennon stated that they do not own the burial crypt and have tried reaching out to an attorney. The person that owns the crypt is Deirdre Richardson Hale, the daughter of George Richey.
The name change was originally agreed upon Wynette’s daughters based on the advice of their stepsister, Hale, who is a lawyer. They were told it would be just a temporary change and legally necessary. Hale was even sued for defamation by her stepmother, Sheila Richey.
“She worked very hard and long her whole life for that name,” Lennon explains. “That’s who she believed she was. That is who she was.”
If this isn’t hard enough, Tammy Wynette’s daughters have not been able to receive any of their heirlooms or publishing rights of her songs. In a controversial saga that has been depicted in books, as well as on television, George Richey received all of her belongings after her death. A small clause in the will stated that he could, “sell whatever he needed to take care of himself if he became ill,” according to the Tennessean.
A court order will be requested this week to restore the name. Georgette Jones Lennon has expressed in a previous interview with Examiner that she is working to restore her mother’s name and legacy.
Interestingly enough, George Richey was originally buried above Tammy Wynette. However, he has since been moved out of the mausoleum, away from the singer who was well known for her hit song, “Stand By Your Man.”
Stay tune for the latest details on restoring Tammy Wynette’s name and legacy.