Wallace remembered through music, stories and photos

Published 4:10 pm Monday, April 12, 2010

Songs by her favorite musician, performed by artists who cherished her memory, on a stage decorated with the big, cheerful sunflowers she loved. Mary Wallace was celebrated in music and memories, in laughter and tears, at her memorial tribute Saturday at the Ga-Ana Theatre.

Many spoke of her energy and enthusiasm, her devotion to all things Hank, and how vitally important she had been in the creation of the Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana.

“Mary did a lot that people don’t even know about,” said Georgiana Mayor Mike Middleton.

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“She worked really hard getting the museum going, on top of everything else she did. She was working hard to try to get the community more involved with fan club activities. This community meant a lot to her.”

Sherri Brackin, vice-president of the Hank Williams International Fan Club, served as emcee for the event.

“I had known Mary for a while, but I really didn’t get to know her well until that last year together,” Brackin said. “It was only a year, but boy, did we pack a lifetime of memories into it . . . and wouldn’t she love all this today?”

Some of those memories were seen throughout the afternoon via the PowerPoint slideshow on the screen in front of the theater. During breaks, attendees were also able to enjoy videos featuring photos of Mary’s family, Mary in her working element and portraits of Mary from childhood and young adulthood.

Also featured were some of her own nature photos that were displayed on the walls of the Senior Nutrition Center where Wallace served as site manager.

An original song performed by a past finalist in the HWIFC’s Annual Songwriting Contest, Vinny D’Amico, “Christmas in Heaven,” accompanied a slide show of photos of Wallace as Mrs. Claus for the fan club’s Christmas parade float and open house in early December, just a few short weeks before her death.

John Wise, the fan club’s president, said the group had to move past the grief and shock of Wallace’s sudden and tragic death and move on to accomplish the things Mary wanted.

“It’s not easy, but we have to carry on,” he said.

Among those performing at the tribute program were George Hamilton IV, Kathryn Sheldt, Robert McLaughlin of Hank Williams Tours, Braxton Shuffert, the only surviving member of the original Drifting Cowboys, Jeff Whitlow and the Old Barn Band with Colon Leatherwood, the Burning Bush Family, Back Creek, Ron Taylor, Gary Faust and the Slim Pickins Traditional Country Band.

Brackin said a wall at the Hank Williams Clubhouse was now devoted to Mary’s memory.

In true Mary Wallace style, the fan club VP encouraged everyone who was not already a fan club member to join, and reminded them about the Hank Festival set for the second weekend in June. To see photos from the memorial tribute, visit www.greenvilleadvocate.com and click on Spotted.