Tammy Denise Byrd, better known as Tammy Wynette, was a legendary country music icon who left an indelible mark on the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. However, a poignant incident occurred two years ago that sparked controversy and led to her name being replaced on her burial crypt with her married name, Virginia W. Richardson. Now, in a bid to rectify this decision, her daughters have initiated a public campaign to restore her name to its rightful place. In this article, we delve into the details of this campaign and the efforts to preserve Tammy Wynette’s cherished legacy.
The Quest to Restore the Name
Tammy Wynette’s daughters, led by Georgette Jones Lennon, have taken up the mantle to seek public support in their endeavor to restore their mother’s name. They initially agreed to the name change, believing it to be temporary, but the circumstances have made it difficult to revert the decision due to the ownership of the burial crypt at Nashville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park lying with someone else. Georgette Jones Lennon invites Tammy Wynette’s fans to join the Facebook page “A Restoration” Tammy Wynette’s Name and Legacy 1942-1948 to rally for the cause.
The Legal Battle and Family Friction
As the daughters pursue legal options to reclaim their mother’s name, they face several challenges. After Tammy Wynette’s passing in 1998, her husband George Richardson (professionally known as George Richey) inherited her home, belongings, and the rights to her publishing and business enterprises. Although Tammy Wynette had expressed her wishes regarding the distribution of her personal items, a handwritten list specifying the recipients was allegedly misplaced, according to Richey’s accounts.
Subsequently, the intellectual property rights associated with Tammy Wynette’s name and music catalog were sold to the Bicycle Music Co. and its affiliate, the AF Circle C. Fund. This move was made public in a news release on February 19, 2010. The legal challenges and pursuit of rights to their mother’s legacy and personal heirlooms have been met with obstacles, leading to strained family relationships.
The Unfulfilled Challenge and Unexpected Defamation Lawsuit
The intended legal challenge to the sale of Tammy Wynette’s catalog and trademarks never materialized due to various factors, including the difficulty of finding attorneys willing to undertake the case on a contingency basis. Instead, one of George Richey’s children, Deirdre Richardson Hale, advised the name change for legal reasons during the planned challenge. However, this temporary change did not align with the daughters’ expectations, as they believed it would reflect their mother’s maiden name, Virginia Wynette Pugh.
In the aftermath of these events, Georgette Jones Lennon and her sister Jackie Daly authored books that were critical of George Richey, accusing him of manipulative behavior and enabling their mother’s struggles. Tragically, the pursuit of justice and the impact on family relationships culminated in a defamation lawsuit filed against Deirdre Richardson Hale by Richey’s widow, Sheila Richey.
The saga surrounding Tammy Wynette’s name and legacy is a poignant reminder of the complexities that can arise in the aftermath of a beloved icon’s passing. The daughters’ campaign to restore her name highlights the enduring love and respect they hold for their mother’s cherished identity. As they embark on this journey, they hope that public support will bolster their legal efforts and ensure that Tammy Denise Byrd’s rightful name, Tammy Wynette, is once again etched on her burial crypt, preserving the legacy of the “First Lady of Country Music” for generations to come.