The Death of Tammy Wynette

Tammy Wynette

Tammy Wynette
May 5, 1942 – April 6, 1998
“I spent 15 minutes writing Stand By Your Man, and a lifetime defendingit.”

 

Tammy was the FirstLady of Country Music.  Her last record wascalled, “One,” a duet with her ex husband George Jones. Her lastperformance was on March 5th, 1998, having stepped in for LorettaLynn, who was ill, at a concert in Plant City Florida.

The house Tammy lived in was located onFranklinRoad, number 4916, in Nashville. 

These are the onlypictures I could get of thehouse. Not very close. Sorry.

 FYI: Hank Williams usedto live in that house, prior to Tammy. The “First Lady” sign that usedto grace the gateshas been removed, 

but hertourbus was still in the driveway in June of 1999. Lookclosely at the photograph and you can see the words, “First Lady” onthe front of the bus. 

And of course, here’shermailbox.

Metro police say they got a call from the National Enquirer asking if TammyWynette had died almost TWO HOURS before a lawyer who had represented thesinger called to report her death. A police department spokesperson states,”Obviously, a lot of people were notified before the PoliceDepartment.” One of Tammy’s daughters said that her mother’s body lay on aliving room sofa for several hours, with visitors going in and out, until herpersonal physician flew there from Pennsylvania.

One daughter, Jackie Daly, stopped by to see Tammy at noon on April 6thand found her asleep on the sofa. She stayed a few minutes and asked Richey tolet Wynette know that she had stopped by. Daly went out to dinner and returnedhome to find a message on her machine that her mother had died. Nice. She wentto the house at 9:30pm and her mother’s body was still on the sofa, covered,and in a fetal position. “People were coming in and out, drinking coffeeand smoking,” she said.

She died on April 6th, 1998, “while sitting on the sofa withher husband. She had a smile on her face.” That’s what her husband GeorgeRichey said at the memorial service, however, her autopsy report states that shedied alone and Cleta Ramsey (a maid?) was the last person to see her alive.Tammy was only 55 when she died, but had lived the lives of 5 people that age.Illness upon illness upon illness. It was (almost) endless.

Her body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and examined the nextmorning. (Correction: Tammy’s body was NOT takento the ME’s, but released directly to the funeral home after Marsh arrived andpronounced her dead.) Tammy’s personal physician, Dr. Wallace Marsh flew in fromPennsylvania. That’s where he lived, but he was licensed to practice medicine inTennessee. Dr. Marsh contacted the Medical Examiners office and related that hehad been treating Tammy for several years “for a variety of ailments,including intestinal dysmotility with numerous complications, most serious ofwhich were problems with adequate nutrition and blood clotting.” Hisopinion was that she died of “pulmonary embolus,” or a clot in thelung. That was it. The Examiner agreed, no autopsy, done and dusted.

I’ve received two emailsfrom people claiming to have been associated with Tammy. One from a kind personwho worked for Tammy, and the other, from a person claiming to be George Richey, Tammy’s widower. I have no reason to doubtthat it’s him. I’m justsurprised that he felt the need to respond to this website. Don’t get me wrong,I am glad. I hate misinformation, so I was hoping for clarification on a fewdetails. Well, read on.

Email 1

“Hello, I am someone who has worked forTammy and Richey.  They were very good to me and have been like a family to meand my friends and family. I have been around most of the country legends herein Nash. and I can tell you Tammy was a good as they come. I sure do miss her. Ihope that you will help folks to remember the good that she has brought tomillions of us. We all have problems in our lives, Tammy had hers, but she livedthe way she wanted to. No one made her do anything against her wishes, believeme she was a very very strong woman.  MG”

Email 2

Dear Scott:

I am truly appalled at your story on my latewife, Tammy Wynette. You are so far from reality you wouldn’t know reality if itwas your Mother.

First of all, let me assure you. Cleta, thehousekeeper, was not at our home when I discovered Tammy. She arrived about 25minutes after I discovered Tammy lifeless in our home. I WAS THERE WITHTAMMY!!!!!!!

To correct another of your many mistakes inyour article, Dolly, Loretta and June Carter Cash were not at her entombment.They were at her memorial service!!! Where you are getting these so called’facts are well known but totally inaccurate!! The performers you mention wereat her memorial service!!

I am not now nor have I ever been engaged toSheila Slaughter. 

* Myresponse* FEB 2001

From January 19, 2001, Tennessean:

WYNETTE’S WIDOWER WEDS IN TINY CEREMONY

Tim McGraw brought more people to the wedding than the bride did.

In a small ceremony at a small church in small College Grove, Tenn., GeorgeRichey, Tammy Wynette’s widower, married his girlfriend, Sheila Slaughter.

Sheila, 34, a TV producer/ex-Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, says she got the5-carat ring during a holiday stay at a bed-and-breakfast in her Texas hometown.(That’s right, I said 5 carats. Zoinks!)

Sheila, a truly lovely lady, said she pushed for a speedy, small wedding.

“I said, ‘If you put it off, it’ll be another $5,000 because I’ll planbigger. If you do it next Tuesday, it’ll only be $2,000.’ He said, ‘How aboutnext Tuesday?’ “

Tim sang “It’s Your Love”, sans his wife, Faith Hill, who was tending to a sickchild.
“I’m glad she didn’t show up,” Sheila joked. “She would’ve mademe look bad.”

The crowd: about 20 friends.
Officiating: Pastor Steve Carr from Grassland Heights Baptist Church inFranklin, the church Sheila and Richey attend.
Best man: John Paul, ex-hubby to Jackie Daly, one of Tammy and Richey’sdaughters.
Maids of honor: Lydia Bennett and Amy Vandiver, both Texas schoolteachersand childhood friends of Sheila.
Number of other Dallas Cowboy cheerleader friends there: one.
Bride’s quote: “It was simple and sweet and spiritual.”

thanks to Jackie and Jimmy Freeman and Myra Mains for that article-S

Also March 2000 from Findadeath.comfriend Laurie Tanner:  Another side note to the Tammy Wynette’s widower,George Ritchey.  I read that they both considered that Tammy’s spirit waspresent at their wedding and they said a prayer to her to ask her to bless theirunion. 

riiiiight… whateverit takes.

Back to George’s email:

“I am not in the process of writing a book!!! The message wasleft on Jackie’s answering device by her sister—NO ONE ELSE!!!

I would love to have a man to man talk withyou in person, that is, assuming you call yourself a MAN!! I don’t view you as aman!!

George Richey”

My response to Mr. Richey:

“You are entitled to you opinions of mymanhood. I don’t begrudge you that at all. A person raked over the coals likeyourself, is bound to be angry about misinformation. I got the information aboutCleta being the last person that saw Tammy, directly from the autopsy report. Ipride myself on doing a lot of research for these stories, and I too despisemisinformation. Mr. Richey, I would be happy to change the Tammy story, if youwould like to share the corrections with me. You were there, I was not.

Scott Michaels”

His reply:

“Dear Scott;

At 4916 Franklin Road, our home since1992, there was never, ever the sign,”First Lady Acres” you spoke of atthat house. It had the initials ‘TW’ and only that. MISINFORMATION!!!” (JEEEEZ! FINE! – sm) “Our previous home about3 miles north at 4121 Franklin Road did have “First Lady Acres” andthe initials ‘TW’ on those gates. I believe you misread the ME’s report. I wasthere alone at the time with Tammy. The live-in housekeeper was away for about 1hour. I have never seen in print, other than your schlock, any information thatI was not at home when Tammy passed away. MISINFORMATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Icould go on and on about your misinformation but that will change nothing. Yoursuppliers of information are not accurate AT ALL!!!!” (Theymay be wrong, but the official documentation, that Tammy died alone, exists. HEREit is. – sm)

“Tammy was not laid away in one of herstage ‘frocks’. MISINFORMATION!!!!!!” (Frockmeans dress, and yes she was – sm)

“Your comment “His andHearse”–is that supposed to be funny? I find no levity in that referenceat all.” (It shouldn’t. You don’tknow them.)

“I have NEVER written ‘gushing’ notes . Ihave left cards and signed the registry book. Where you you get the “sappy,melodramatic things” you mention. You never saw it. And even if you did,what about that “seems sort of odd, doesn’t it?” Yourquote!!!!!!” (I did see it. The noteswere in the guest book, which was clearly left for the public to read, and hereis a sample. 

I’m a little uncomfortable putting that picture up, onlybecause they are sentiments. I’ve had them forever, but here you go, just toprove a point.)

“I had my lawyer ask the ME to do anautopsy after the ME refused, on two occasions, requests from Tammy’s daughtersto disinter Tammy. It was totally against Tammy’s wishes but I did so anyway toplease Tammy’s children. A very painful decision!!!”

“A wake was held at Woodlawn the nightbefore Tammy’s memorial services. Not a single famous personality was there. Itwas just for family. However, you state that many Country performers were there.Not so at all. They were at the Memorial, as were people from all over the USand foreign countries. MISINFORMATION!!!!!” (Thatinformation was given to me directly from a woman working at Woodlawn. Directly.She is the one that showed me where Tammy was laid out, and I saw no reason todoubt her.)

“What you write is a disgrace to Tammy.

George Richey”

Another article of interest:

Issue Date: April 13, 2000
Section: City Limits

Country Palace

Tammy Wynette’s house goes for $1.2 million

Another chapter in the life and death of Tammy Wynette hasclosed with the sale of her house for $1.2 million to a Nashville bookpublishing executive.

The house is full of memories, perhaps too many for Richey to bear. It’s asif Wynette is still there, and virtually every wall is covered in Wynette’s goldrecords, awards, or photographs. “If you walk in, everything isTammy,” a friend says. “I imagine if he wanted to move on, it would behard to do in that house. Also, it’s a big house with a lot of upkeep for oneperson.”

Friends say Richey is talking to auction houses likeSotheby’s to sell many of Wynette’s belongings. Meanwhile, the Nashvillepublishing executive, who wished not to be named, was expected to move fromBelle Meade into the house by June after the sale’s closing.

Thanks again Jackie and Jimmy Freeman – s

And yet more ammo from Tennesseevia Jackie and Jimmy – March 2001

Sheilahas a little Richey on the way

Tammy Wynette’s widower, George Richey, and his wife of twomonths, Sheila Slaughter Richey, are expecting a baby.

“Do you believe it?” Sheila said, laughing.

“I guess that puts all those rumors to rest. I figured I’d be anotherCelineDion, having all these tests done. But it worked!”

“So Richey’ll be 150 when the kid graduates, but that’s OK.”

Sheila said the baby is due in October. George wants a boy; Sheila wants agirl.

“This is far better than anything that’s ever happened to me,”Sheila said, turning serious. “I couldn’t be happier.”

I raise my middle finger to you, Mr.Richey.  You are the disgrace.

Big thanks to Findadeath.com friends, “His and Hearse” (you knowwho you are), in Nashville. They helped so much with obtaining the informationused in this story. I couldn’t imagine having cocktails during a hurricane inNashville, with anyone else.

Cut to September 3, 1999 – Jackie is penning a book called “My Mother’sStory,” which will delve into the death, in depth. The daughters werereally upset with Richie when he broke down on stage at the Ryman, during thememorial service. They felt that the funeral should have been totally focused onTammy, and Richey’s appearance was stealing Tammy’s thunder. One of themremarked, “If he doesn’t get off that stage, I’m gonna have to pull himoff.”

August 2010 George Richey isnowdead.  Ding Dong.  Thanks to Kaydaver for the info. 

A private funeral service was held early in the day of Thursday April 9th,at WoodlawnCemetery in Nashville. 

Tammy was laid out in one ofher stage frocks, in the DogwoodRoom at the funeral home. 

She was wheeled intothechapel for a service that was packed to the gills withCountry and Western performers, including her closest friends, June Carter Cash,Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Oh I just love Dolly. 

After the service, she waswheeled down the hall, and interred in a wall crypt.

A public memorial service was held later that afternoon, at the former homeof the Grand Ol Opry, TheRyman Auditorium, in downtown Nashville. 

RentamouthRandy Travis was there (was there any morning show he didn’t hit that day?) withhis “wife”, and among some of the performers were Dolly, LorrieMorgan, and the Oak Ridge Boys, Wynona and Naomi Judd (both annoyingly woresunglasses throughout). Loretta Lynn was too upset to perform. Other guestsincluded Barbara Mandrell, George Jones, Kenny Rogers (ugh.). Naomi Juddeulogized her, and went on for HOURS about how close they were. All in all, avery nice service, but Dolly was the best.

Update – for many weeks afterTammy’s death, George Richey visited Tammy’s grave and wrote extensive gushingnotes in the visitor’s registry at her graveside. Really sappy, melodramaticthings.

Cut to December 1998 –

The Medical Examiner (ME) receives letters from each of Tammy’s 3 daughters”expressing concern over the cause of their mother’s death and asking thatan autopsy be performed.” During a meeting at the ME’s, they”expressed concerns about narcotics administered to their mother forcontrol of pain and the sequence of events that transpired the day she passedaway.” The ME contacts the Dr. Marsh in PA, who states regret that acomplete list of drugs was not made available on the night of her death. The MEsuspects that only “minimal” information was made available.

The daughters also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Tammy’shusband and her doctor as well.

Having had enough of this speculation, Tammy’s husband and legal next of kin,George Richey, contacted the ME and requested that Tammy’s body be disinterredand an autopsy be performed to resolve lingering questions regarding her death.He stated, “I’m profoundly saddened her children are willing to drag theirmother’s closely-guarded private life into the public eye, leaving me no choicebut to respond.” A year and 8 days after her death, it was done. I wouldhave killed to be there.

They found nothing exciting. The ME concluded that she had died “as aresult of right-sided heart failure.” He also states that “Therelative contributions to her death from the underlying natural diseases and themedications present in her body at the time of her death cannot beascertained,” which basically meant that because she was so filled with theforever goop, they couldn’t tell. There you go. Case closed. End of story.

In May of 99, the wrongful death lawsuit dropped George Richey, but continuedagainst Dr. Marsh, for prescribing too many damn drugs.

Update March 2001 fromFindadeath.com friendScott H:

I just thought I’d drop you a note with some”unprofessional insight” on something I saw in Tammy Wynette’s autopsyreport:

In my hardly-ever-humble opinion, it sure looks to me like her doc fromPennsylvania was a big-time quack.  She was getting some PO-TENT drugs fromhim…probably either too potent or too many.  Why else would you maintaina relationship with a doctor from two or three states away instead of seeingsomeone locally?

Why do I think this?  Because of the last sentence in the “ProbableCause of Death” box:  “Intestinal dysmotility on chronic painmanagement.”  As someone who’s been in chronic pain for 8 years andhas been through his share of pain medications and treatments, I think I canphrase this a little
more clearly and a little LESS delicately:  Tammy was likely experiencingintestinal shutdowns because she was taking heavy, heavy doses of narcotics.Probably too many for her tiny size and frail condition.  Anyone who’s evenbeen on short-term courses of codeine can attest to the fact that it’s
constipating as hell.  In fact, up until the mid-twentieth century, doctorswould give morphine to patients with severe dysentery (The Runs, The HersheySquirts, The Big Fudge Volcano, you get the picture) because they knew it wouldstop them up!  And when you take lots of narcotics over a long period oftime, you have to live on softeners and laxatives to keep things”moving.”  The word “dysmotility” literally means lackof (“dys”) movement (“motility,” closely related to”mobility”).  This constant stopping-up can cause all sorts ofother ailments, not the least of which is colon cancer.

All this nasty intestinal s**t (no pun intended) may not have killed Tammy, butit sure sheds light on how drugged-up she must have been.

Very interesting, Scott.  Thanks a load.
in Beautiful Downtown Cleveland, Ohio

Incidentally, there was a memorial service held for Tammy Wynette, in London,in July of 1998. It was held at St. James’s Church in Picadilly, and attended byGeorge Richey and Sir Cliff Richard.

Tammy’s demise wasn’t the first time she rode in a hearse. Back in 1992, mybuddy Rob was assigned to Tammy as an assistant, when she was doing a televisionshow here in the UK. Their limousine never showed, and Tammy was rushed to thestudio in (the front seat of) a hearse. Imagine pulling over a speeding hearseon a winding country road, and finding Tammy Wynette in it. It didn’t happen,but what a fantastic image it would have made.

Trivia: Tammy kept her beautician’s license current for her whole life, justin case. She had a beauty salon built in her home, next to her bedroom.

More Trivia: She only ever wore “Estee Lauder Private Collection”perfume.

And more Trivia: She dated Burt Reynolds.

Thanks to friend of Findadeath.com Tina C., for this tidbit of information.There is a musicalbeing produced about Tammy’s life, which will hitLondon in October of 1999.

Here’s a photograph ofTammy’sfootprints at the Grand Ol Opry, in Nashville. Whatwas she wearing, socks?

This in, June 2002:  from Findadeath.com friend JamesMoore:  Hey Scott and fellow death hags,

Just wondering if anyone else saw last night’s “Bravo Profiles” about Tammy. If not, here’s some more info about the First Lady of Country Music. As they say, the plot thickens:

Tammy was married five times, and was physically abused by all five, including George Jones, who had been her idol when she was growing up. The charge of physical abuse against George Richey came from one of Tammy’s daughters, who was interviewed for the show.. 

Tammy’s main drug was Dilaudid (sp?) which is normally prescribed only to terminally ill people because of its addictive nature and long-term effects on the body. The digestive problems she had, which led to her 31 (yes, 31) stomach operations, was a direct result of her Dilaudid abuse. In her last operation, it took the doctor 11 minutes just to cut through the scar tissue left from previous operations. Towards the end of her life, Tammy had to be fed intravenously and had a catheter in her back for the introduction of her drugs directly into an artery, since her veins were practically destroyed. One night, George Richey actually drove her to five emergency rooms in one night to get the amount of painkillers she was craving. After Tammy’s personal assistants confronted George about his enabling of Tammy’s drug use, he promised to stop giving them to her, but actually just stopped giving them to her in front of her staff.

Tammy’s daughter said that the well-publicized kidnapping, where Tammy was found by the highway 80 miles from Nashville, was faked and that the beatings Tammy said she received from her kidnappers actually came from Richey. She also said when Tammy got into trouble with the IRS, Richey tried to get her to call ex-boyfriend Burt Reynolds and get the money to pay them off from him. At one point Tammy made clothes for her grandkids because she couldn’t use her credit cards to buy them.

Tammy’s daughter also visited her mother on the day she died. She noticed her mom was lying motionless on the couch, with George sitting in a chair nearby, half out of it. Tammy was lying with her head on the end of the couch nearest the t.v., which was blaring very loudly, so it seemed unusual that Tammy could sleep so soundly through that. She left, came back some time later, and noticed Tammy still hadn’t moved. She had to go to the airport to meet her ex-husband, and asked George to tell Mom when she woke up that she had been there and that she loved her. George just nodded and went back to half-dozing in front of the tube. After picking up her ex and driving back with him to her house, she found a message on the answeringmachine telling her that her mother had passed away. She returned to her mom’s house to find folks standing around in the room, with one of her sisters rubbing Tammy’s feet. Tammy was still lying on the couch, in the exact same position, meaning she was probably already dead when her daughter first came to visit (and also further proves that George’s claim that she died sitting next to him on the couch with a smile on her face was a lie). George was already on the phone, saying he didn’t want an autopsy performed “because she’s got enough scar tissue on her now.”

Some facts that have turned up since Tammy’s death:

Dr. Marsh diagnosed her death as coming from a blood clot, from his office *in Pennsylvania* *over the phone.* The death certificate was not co-signed by the funeral home director, in violation of Tennessee state law.

A few months before her death, Tammy had walked around the house with her daughters, writing down a list on a legal pad of things she wanted them to have after she died. Some valuable things, but mostly sentimental things likepictures from family outings and from her marriage to George Jones. The legal pad could not be found after she died. Tammy’s will stated that unless such a list could be found, everything went to George. Some have commented that that particular clause was completely out of character for Tammy. While the will stated that upon George’s death everything would be divided among Tammy’s daughters, it also said that if George remarried and had kids, he had the right to draw up his own will and leave the Wynette fortune to anyone he chose. Enter Sheila and the baby.

The day after Tammy was buried, George was dancing around the house in a jogging suit with Tammy’s duet with the KLF, “Moo Moo Land (aka Justified and Ancient)” playing. Strange way to mourn.

In the weeks before Tammy’s death, and on the day she died, several purchases for women’s clothes were made on her credit card. There has been speculation that Richey’s relationship with Sheila Slaughter may have begun a few weeks before Tammy’s death.

After doctors and hospitals began refusing to prescribe drugs for Tammy, George enlisted the services of Dr. Marsh, whose office was over 600 miles from Nashville. He gave Tammy her prescriptions and referred her to a Nashville medical supply firm which shipped her all the drugs, after Tammy signed a waiver absolving them of any liability from any ill effects she might suffer from the drugs. Just a few days before she died, a shipment of some mighty powerful drugs had been sent to her home.

The special noted that Richey had been approached about being interviewed for the special. He agreed only on the condition that he be paid a hefty fee and receive editorial control. Needless to say, he wasn’t interviewed. But Tammy’s daughter, her best friend, her publicist, two former personal assistants, Brenda Lee, Crystal Gale, Wynona Judd, Elton John, a country music historian, and a few other folks were interviewed, and their combined interviews could be summed up as, “Tammy was a good person, a brave soul, and a great talent. And George was a sleaze bag.”

P.S.: While her most famous song was “Stand By Your Man,” Tammy’s favorite was “Til I Can Make It On My Own.”

Exhausting job, James. Thanks for that.

This just in, January2004, from Findadeath friend Rob Jerrell:

Just a tidbit about thehouse that Tammy died in….the land was owned by Hank Williams, but he never lived in that part of the house, Hank Jr. andhis mother did, but not Hank Sr., Miss Audrey {Hank Jr’s mamma} had the front addedon to the small brick house that she and daddy Hank lived in after he died. The brick house was later moved to Music Roll, where in the early90’s it was turned into a bar! Nice memorial to ole Hank Sr…anyway the house that Tammy died in is where Miss Audrey herself died also laying on asofa!!…..nice site love it keep it up….Robbie…

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