NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Family, friends and fans said goodbye Monday morning to Grand Ole Opry legend Jim Ed Brown.
Brown, 81, passed away last Thursday at Williamson Medical Center after a long battle with cancer.
Fans began lining up outside of the Ryman Auditorium an hour before the public service. See photos of Brown’s funeral here.
Some fans told News 2 they were already in town for the CMA Music Festival and decided to stay another day to attend Brown’s funeral.
During the service, Brown was remembered as a “loving, kind, forgiving man” and a man who always greeted others by saying, “Hello, friend.”
A long list of artists performed and shared stories about Brown, including
The Oak Ridge Boys, Jeannie Seely, Crystal Gayle, Craig Morgan, Brenda Lee, Rhonda Vincent, Vince Gill, Lang Scott, Linda Davis, Hillary Scott,
The Gatlin Brothers, The Issacs and Lady Antebellum.
“It was a great tribute. His family should be very proud. I’m going to miss him,” said close friend Jim Brady.
In March, it was announced the Brown and his two sisters would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was supposed to take place this fall.
But on June 4, the Country Music Hall of Fame was informed that Brown’s health was quickly declining and plans for an early induction were made.
A small group gathered at Brown’s hospital bedside and surprised him with a medallion later that day.
“There was Jim Ed, the newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame beaming in the middle of all of us with his medallion proudly around his neck,” said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association.
When asked about his induction, Trahern said Brown quoted, “Fame is fleeting, hit records change every week, award show winners and nominees change every year but being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame will be forever.”
During the memorial service, Brenda Lee recalled the last time she saw Brown in the hospital.
“He was proudly wearing that Hall of Fame medallion and on oxygen as he sat in bed. We laughed and cried, sharing personal memories,” said Lee.
Brown achieved fame in the 1950’s with his two sisters, Maxine and Bonnie, as a member of The Browns.
He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1963.