Long-time George Jones fans make special trip to funeral

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By Elaina Deren, Special Writer

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - There are fans and there are fans.

Thousands of close family, friends and fans of the late country singer George Jones paid tribute earlier this month at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

The iconic singer was laid to rest and two huge fans from Mount Washington made the special trip to say final respects to their performer.

David Grigsby and Roger Hahn made the trip to Nashville.

“I have been a fan since high school,” Grigsby said. “I am 67-years-old so I’ve enjoyed his music for over 50 years. I attended at least 30 concerts. One of my favorite songs is ‘Tender Years,’ it has always stuck with him.”

Grigsby said he met Jones once at the Derby Dinner Playhouse in Indiana. 

“I waited five hours for him. When he came off the bus, I got my photo taken with him and we had a short conversation. I do regret not getting his autograph but I was fortunate to meet him,” said Grigsby.

On the morning of the funeral, Grigsby and Hahn got up early to wait in line. 

“We got up 4 a.m. Nashville time, ate a quick breakfast at McDonalds, got in line around 5 a.m.,” Grigsby said. “There were three hundred people in front of us and they opened the doors at 9 a.m.”

During their wait, Grigsby said they met people from around the country who also wanted to pay their respects. 

“We talked to people from the Tennessee area, Alabama, West Virginia and the woman who sat next to met was from Minnesota. We also met the bus driver of the Oak Ridge Boys.”

Hahn said he was surprised by the many people that traveled to attend.

“I didn’t realize he was admired by so many people,” Hahn said. “There was a lot of more people there than I expected.”

When the funeral started, Grigsby said sad it was enlightening and sad at the same time. “The former first Lady Laura Bush spoke and Alan Jackson sang, ‘He stopped loving her today.’ There were many different entertainers. I would say there was about four thousand people there. We sat in the balcony with the other fans. The bottom rows were for entertainers, close family and friends.”

Hahn agreed with Grigsby that the funeral was a good way to tribute Jones. “I felt that it was very spiritual and respectful,” Hahn said. “I had also been a fan for over forty years and when his family spoke, I got to know more about him.”

Grigsby said he learned more about Jones during the funeral. “I knew he had trouble with alcohol. His wife Nancy, discussed how he turned his life around. The minister also talked about how Jones had Christian faith. I won’t forget when he said, ‘he should be singing in heaven now.’”

Jones’ song ‘Who is going to fill their shoes’ was mentioned at the funeral. “No one will ever fill his shoes,” Grisgby said. “I do encourage the new generation to grab an old record so they enjoy his music. He sang songs that people could relate to. The minister was right when he said that Jones lived his life in the public. As a fan, I do miss him.”