The Death of Dottie West

Dottie West
October 11, 1932 – September 4, 1991
“I was born a country girl, I will die a country girl.”

Dottie had been through the ringer, starting with a fatherthat sexually abused her.Growing up, her family was so poor, they ate their meals off lard bucket lidsinstead of plates, and drank out of old tin cans. Poor Dottie.

Dottie was a close friend of Patsy Cline. In fact, Patsy was only 34 daysolder than Dottie, and they shared the billing of Patsy’s final concert.Dottie’s last words to Patsy were, “Patsy, I’m really worried about youflying in this weather,” to which Patsy replied, “Don’t worry about meHoss, when it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.” Guess whosetime it was to go?

Findadeath friend Julie sends this: Forgot tomention this, but Dottie West offered Patsy Cline a ride back to Nashville. Since Patsy was in a hurry to get home to her kids — and she thought the planewould be faster — she turned Dottie down.  Unfortunately, we all know howboth their stories ended, Patsy in a horrible plane crash and ironically, Dottiein a car crash.

Dottie was probably most famous for her “Country Sunshine” song,that was used in a Coke commercial. I’ve been listening to an “EssentialDottie West” CD lately and honestly, Dot just wasn’t thatgood. Not terrible, just Not That Good. Poor Dottie.

In 1984, she was in the film, “Aurora Encounter.” It was some flickabout a youth with an ageing disease and space aliens.

Update – October 99 – Findadeathfriend Denise Duvall was kind enough to share a copy of Dottie’s cinematic triumph withme. Agony. Dottie is only in itfor about 20 minutes, but a rare film appearance by Spanky McFarland makes upfor Dottie’s absence. That, and the MOST awful child actors known to man,one being a poor kid with that ageing disease that makes him look a hundred yearsold. He gets cast as a, get this, a Martian! How do they come up with this?! Oh yeah, andJack Elam playing the ugliest (in fairness, he couldn’t help that) alcoholicin the world. ThanksDenise!

Clarification from Findadeath.comfriend Markfrom FL: I immediately was excited to see it and brought up my blockbusteraccount only to find I was disappointed as I learned it was  the LittleRascals Spanky and not my preteenheart-pounder Spanky from such 60’s pop hits as “Sunday will Never bethe Same.”  Thanks for the point, Mark.

Some of Dottie’s other spectacular achievements include The Love Boat (wow.), Family Feud (she was anatural), and Hee-Haw. To top it all off, she had her own float inthe “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!” No limits.

With her earnings from the float, Dottie bought a house in Williamson County,at 4606 Shy’sHill Road, in Nashville.

 Here’s the best shot I couldget of the house. 

Oh and here’s a photo of hermailbox, where her Love Boat fan mailwould arrive. 

So impressive was this house, she was asked to be on TheLifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I must read you an excerpt from herunauthorized biography:

“Dottie, attired in a dress reminiscent of the Old South(erm…), andhusband Alan Winters posed on an upstairs balcony with the rolling MiddleTennessee hills as the backdrop. The couple snuggled in a white lacy hammock onthe lush green lawn, as the cameras rolled. Also for the cameras, Dottie glideddown the ornate staircase of the entrance hallway of her four level home andsent the pins flying in the bowling alley in her basement.” Class.

In August of 1990, Dottie invited Entertainment Tonight to herhome, to announce that she was broke. The IRS wanted $1.3 million, and Dottiedidn’t have it. A bank bought the mansion and evicted Poor Dottie. One of thebad investments she made on the advice of her manager was, and I swear this istrue, tuna boats. Imagine Dottie’s surprise when she found out that the boatswere never even built.

Updated Sept. 1999 – a huge thank you to friend Mark Crawfordfor these next photographs. Mark lives IN the Wessex, and was kind enough tosend these in for us to enjoy. Cheers, Mark!

Dottie moved to the WessexTowers Condominiums, 

on BrookmontTerrace, in Nashville. 

Her unit was number201. 

Her car was repossessed, and good buddy Kenny Rogers (of largebreast fame) gave her his old car. No doubt sheparked it back here. 

On the last night of her life, she drove outthese gates, 

and downthis road, 

expecting to perform at the Grand Ol Opry. Sorry, I’mgetting ahead of myself.

In March of 1991, there was an investigation that Dottie had hidden hervaluables to avoid them being confiscated. They busted her, and sold everything inan auction open to the public during fan week in Nashville. That’s the bigtourist weekend of the year there. Poor Dottie. So then, She shows up at theauction, and then, She. Bids. On. Her. Own. Stuff. Some fans bid on some of herexpensive doll collection, and upon winning them, gave them back to her. Now ifI were Dottie, well, it would not have been pretty. “What isTHIS? I need cash and a good car, not a doll!” Not to take away from thegenerosity of the fans.  Poor Dottie.

About six months before she died, Dottie told a minister, “I alwayswanted to dance with the angels and sing with an angel band.” Guess what.At last God smiled upon Dottie. Here’s the dirt:

On August 30, 1991, Dottie left her condo to perform at theGrandOl Opry, and Kenny Rogers’ old beat up charity hand medown car wouldn’t start.

 Okay, it was only 3 years old. Dottie’s81 year old neighbor George Thickson helped her to get it going. On her way tothe gig, the car stalled in front of the old BelleMead Theater on Harding Road. 

Dottie, wearing herstage costume, flagged down a passing car to mooch a ride. Thanks a lot, Kenny. Acar finally stopped, and guess who the driver was? No, not Kenny, but George, the81 year old guy! So George punches it to get her to the show, and takes theBriley Parkway to the Oprylandexit. 

At 8:11pm (she was due onstage at 8:30), Georgeloses control onthe exit and the 1982 Plymouth Reliant he was drivingsailed through the air for SEVENTY-NINE POINT SEVENTY-FIVE FEET and hit theembankment! 

Pretty awesome, innit? They were taken to theEmergencyRoom of VanderbiltMedical Center, in Nashville. 

Now here’s the realirony: George makes a full recovery. Poor Dottie’s life however, had justclimaxed.

Dottie’s liver was pretty well sliced and diced. She received 35 units ofblood and had two operations. Just before the third surgery, Kenny Rogers showedup and promised her they would record a song together. Again, Kenny is glad itwasn’t me, coz I would have been in his face. “Excuse me, we mighthave done this before.  Dick.” But then again, that’s me. Anyway,Kenny lucked out, because Dottie bit it on the operating table at 9:43am. Heartfailure. She was 58.

The Medical Examiner’s report.

So, she actually died an “exit ramp girl.”

Dottie was laid out in Nashville’sWoodlawnCemetery. 

Floral arrangements were received fromvirtually every country music star. The local paper wrote, “Because ofDottie West’s death, the country sunshine is not so bright today.” PoorDottie.

Another big thank you friends “His and Hearse” for these next snaps. Hundredsof mourners jammed ChristChurch, on Old Hickory Boulevard in Nashville. (Same church Reba’sband had their memorial.) 

Here’s the signin front of it. 

I think the actual service was heldinthis chapel. 

The funeral procession left Nashville and returned toDottie’s hometown of McMinnville for burial in Mount View Cemetery.

Hundreds of mourners jammed Christ Church, on Old Hickory Boulevard inNashville. (Same church Reba’s band had their memorial.) The funeral processionleft Nashville and returned to Dottie’s hometown of McMinnville for burial inMount View Cemetery.

I wish I had a photo of this, but on July 13, 1993, highway 56, from theMcMinnville city limits to Dekalb County, is now Dottie West Memorial Highway.They even have a Dottie West festival in her hometown every year, where theygather around and watch old episodes of Family Feud. Ok, I made that last bitup.

You wanna know something funny? Every time I listened to Dottie while I wasaway, I ended up on an exit ramp. I swear it’s true. Coincidence? If you likereal tragic hardcore country music, I strongly suggest “The EssentialDottie West.”  Get it get it get it.

In all honesty, like I said, she isn’t that good, but this is a really goodCD. Especially the one with the tone deaf 4-year-old singing about his fatherleaving, and Dottie egging him on, nothing short of abuse:

Come here my precious little boymommy loves you so
We’ve got big things to talk about some things you have to know
And though you’re only four years old I know you understand
That from now on you’ve got to be mommy’s little man
Your daddy left for good today but we’ll make it just the same
And pretty soon we’ll both forget we even wear his name

Dottie’s actual son talks/sings:

(Please mommy can I stillcall him daddy I know he’s treated us so bad
Please mommy can I still call him daddy for he’s the only daddy I ever had)

Dottie continues:
Now sweetheart you must forget cause he doesn’t love you like before
But knowin’ that he doesn’t care just makes mommy love you more
So come on now and lets be big and strong and please please don’t cry
Cause he doesn’t deserve your tears
Cause when he left he didn’t even say you goodbye
(Please mommy can I still…

Trivia: Hereare her handprints, outside the Grand Ol Opry.

A big huge thank you to Findadeath.comfriendTami Dingle for helping me to gather facts for this story.

This just in, January 2004, from Findadeathfriend David Barr:  I do want to point out one thing that you may want to add as anaddendum to the site. You have posted a link to a photo of Dottie’s handprints which was on display in the plaza area outside of the New Grand Ole OpryHouse.  Unfortunately, Opryland Theme Park closed down in 1997 or 1998. The plaques were removed from the Opry Plaza due to construction of Opry MillsMall, which took up all of the Parks parking lot and most of the Opryland USATheme park. The location of the displays are unknown by me.  Therewere other displays: Vince Gill, Hank Williams, Jr., Emily Lou Harris,just to name a few.

Trivia:  Findadeath.comfriend Matt sends this:  Thoughtyou’d like to see these photos from the 1985 Oui Magazine issue that Dottieposed in – such a scandal then in Nashville. She was in her 50’s when these weredone and it was a big “NO MA’AM” to do in conservative Nashville/Country Music. If I’m not mistaken Dottie is still the only female countrysinger to date to have posed in such a magazine’s centerfold.  ThanksMatt!  HAWT!  I’ve added one of those pictures to the top of thispage, and here are two more.  

Much appreciation.

GreatDottie link here, with accident photographs.

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