On the morning of April 6, 2016, on his 79th birthday, Merle Haggard died of complications from pneumonia at his home in Palo Cedro, California. His son Ben said that Haggard had predicted the day of his death a week prior. Haggard's wife, Theresa, sent a hand-written note to The Californian expressing her sorrow.
"He was the best singer, songwriter and performer I've ever seen. Not only did he write the songs he sang, he was the music.
"I will miss him forever."
The funeral is set for Saturday (April 9) in Palo Cedro, Calif. It will be a private memorial for Haggard.
Before Haggard passed away, he had already pre-planned his own funeral service in a written document. Marty and Connie Smith have been invited to participate. Stuart told the Tennessean: "He requested that Connie sing 'Precious Memories,' that me and Connie sing his song 'Silver Wings,' and that I officiate the service," he says. "We're honored to do it."
The service is scheduled for Saturday on Haggard's property in Palo Cedro in Shasta County. Haggard has asked that two recordings by his idol Lefty Frizzell be played and he extended an invitation to friends and touring partners Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson to perform a song of their choosing. Among Haggard's pallbearers are his youngest son, Ben, and nephew Jim Haggard. The document stated that Haggard wishes to be cremated.
Haggard was married five times, first, in 1956, to Leona Hobbs (they had four children: Dana, Marty, Kelli, Noel); in 1965 to singer Bonnie Owens, former wife of Buck Owens; in 1978 to singer Leona Williams; and in 1985 to Debbie Parret. On Sept. 11, 1993, Haggard's friend and former collaborator, Tommy Collins, a minister, performed his wedding to the former Theresa Ann Lane. The Haggards had two children, Jenessa and Ben.
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