by Mitch Greenhill, Folklore Productions
Doc Watson was laid to rest yesterday (Sunday, June 3, 2012), following a moving service at Laurel Springs Baptist Church in Deep Gap, North Carolina. Pastor Larry Young and Reverend Gary Watson, Doc's nephew, presided before an overflow crowd of mourners, who came to pay their respects to the musical giant.
At the family's request, Charles Welch and Wayne Henderson sang "When I Lay My Burden Down," followed by the Krüger Brothers and then the group that assembles at Merlefest each year under the "My Friend Merle" banner: Sam Bush, T. Michael Coleman, Mitch Greenhill, David Holt, Jack Lawrence (playing Doc's old Martin), Jeff Little, Cliff Miller, and Joe Smothers. Songs and stories brought laughter and tears. T. Michael Coleman and Doc's friend Robert Doyle told of days on the road. David Holt recalled how, at every concert, someone would cry out "We love you, Doc," and that became the afternoon's rallying cry. I spoke of Doc's influence in the world beyond the hills that surrounded us. Cliff Miller recalled Doc as a great provider, to his family and to us. We all agreed that Doc had profoundly affected and altered our lives.
Randy Travis sent a special recorded message and a new recording of "Dr. Jesus," a song that Doc loved.
Pastor Young and Reverend Watson reaffirmed Doc's strong religious faith. At the graveside, a smaller group of family and close friends sang "I'll Fly Away." As the sun peeked from behind gathering clouds in the brisk mountain springtime, we huddled close to each other, seeking comfort from the big loss that had suddenly torn our lives.