Corrine Arleta Stumpf, professionally known as Mary Randolph, passed from this life
Sunday April 25, 2004 at the St. James Nursing Center. She was 79 years of age.
Corrinee had a remarkable career that spanned more than 50 years. She had an unusual
voice that critics called a cross between Patti Page and Mary Ford, without imitating
Born at High Gate, Missouri, to John and Eliza Stumpf on January 31, 1925. Corrinne,
her sister Carmolee, and brother Clifford, began singing together at an early age. They entertained
throughout the community, extending to St. Louis with appearances at the Fox Theatre
and the St. Louis Police Circus. Their first professional job was at WDZ, Tuscola, Illinois.
This came after world War II, when her brother Clifford returned from the Armed Forces. By
this time, a fellow musician friend, Bob Hastings in St. Louis, named them "The
Sagebrush Serenaders" because of their strong tie to Western style music.
Clifford was on tour with other artists from WDZ when they had a car accident and
was hospitalized for several months. When ready to work again, the act was
hired at KWTO, Springfield, Missouri. The highlight of the week was an appearance
on the (M)utual (N)etwork program that aired each Saturday night, Korn's-A-Krackin'.
It was at KWTO they were privileged to work with musicians Chet Atkins, Red Foley, Porter Wagoner,
Billy Walker, the Haden Family, the Goodwill Family and others.
While at KWTO, Clifford married Martha Mayfield. At this time, Don Cornick,
Carmolee's husband, who had just returned from tour of duty in Korea, was
also a talented musician. The original "Sagebrush Serenaders" broke up
and went their separate ways. Corrinne remained at KWTO as a soloist until
a talent scout from KWK, St. Louis, heard her sing on the air as he
was traveling. She was hired immediately to join their live entertainment staff,
which included the Dunnigan Trio, and Myron Floren with
the "BuckEye Four". Later Myron left to join the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.
About a year later, a popular radio personality, Uncle Dick
Slack, asked Corrinne to join them at Radio Station KMOX. Another
singing opportunity was offered, Corrinne left KMOX, St. Louis, and
moved to Renfro Valley, Kentucky, to join the Renfro Valley Barn Dance
which aired remote from WHAS, Louisville. At this time, radio pioneer,
John Lair, gave her the, professional name of Mary Randolph.
From the Hillbilly-Music.com Archives:
Gertrude Carson wrote in her "Mid-West Microphone" column in the January 1947
issue of Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder that The Sagebrush Serenaders
were being heard each day over KWTO at 6:15am and again at 4:35pm. In that same
issue, Mary Jean Shurtz wrote in her "I've Been Listenin'" column that the
Korn's-A-Crackin' show was being heard over the Mutual Network at 9:00pm CST.
Mary's time at KWTO appears to have been around 1947. A January 1949 issue
of "KWTO Dial" tells us in their "Out of the Files" column where they looked back
at past years that the Sagebrush Serenaders were in the spotlight then, which
included "Cliff and Corrinee in St. Louis and Carmolee in St. James". That same
year, Korn's-A-Krackin' was celebrating its first network anniversary.
The May 1949 "KWTO Dial" in their "From the Files" column writes that in 1947,
the "Dial" snapshot section featured pictures of Corrine Stumpf. In this 1949
issue they note that Corrine was with the Renfro Valley gang and touring
This proved to be a successful move and she was invited to tour the state
of Florida with the Barn Dance entertainers whose home base was Orlando,
Florida WDBO. Later, Lonzo and Oscar of Grand Ole Opry fame, contacted her
to tour 18 states to entertain at State Fairs. Lonzo and Oscar linked
Corrinne with a recording company in Nashville to cut a record, where she
was given the name of Cathy Kelly. Accompanied by the well known Owen
Bradley musicians, she recorded multiple times over her own voice, which
was a new technique at the time. Unfortunately, due to contract disputes,
beyond Corrinne's control, that record was never released. Later she
did record a gospel cassette tape using the name Mary Randolph, which
The July 2001 issue of the "Renfro Valley Bugle wrote of Mary's arrival
to join their cast in January of 1949. She was known as "The Old
Fashioned Girl" and as such was part of the reason for the popularity
that came from the warm and friendly Renfro Valley atmosphere that John
Lair strived to create. She also appeared on the CBS Sunday morning
broadcasts of the Renfro Valley Gatherin', the famous
Renfro Valley Barn Dance as well as the Country Store programs. The article stated,
"Mary never had professional training, but sang simply and naturally the
homey, nostalgic songs her mother had taught her in childhood."
In the 1940s, Renfro Valley put together various touring road shows.
From January to April of 1949, Mary toured with one of those popular
traveling troupes that included Emory and Linda Lou Martin, Patty Flye,
Pleaz Mobley, Granny Harper and others that were a part of the road show package.
Her next move was to WHO, Des Moines, where she was hired as a girl soloist
with Dusty Owens and the Rodeo Boys. She later became the third female of a
new girl's trio being formed which became a favorite act and was always
in demand for personal appearances.
Hillbilly-Music.com Note: We've had the privilege of
corresponding with several members of the WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic who knew
and worked with Mary. Here are some excerpts:
"...Jack Kerrigan, who was the manager then, told Faye and Zelda that he
had contacted a female singer, Mary Randolph, and wanted her to audition with
them to see if a girl's trio could be worked out.
When Mary arrived and was introduced to Zelda and Faye, they hit it off
almost immediately. They went to their rehearsal room and started naming
songs that would be good for three-part harmony. Zelda wishes she
could remember their first tune, but recalls, that "...as soon as we picked
out our parts, we sounded great. We were so happy."
They soon had their own program at 12:15pm over WHO. Steve George accompanied
them on the piano and Don Hovey was on the organ. The trio became a very
popular act on the Barn Dance, being billed as the "Blue Ridge Mountain Gals".
Mary had a smooth and pleasing voice. She soon joined Dusty Owens and his
Rodeo Boys, who had joined the staff that same year. "
Another WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic alumnus, Dusty Owens,
wrote of Mary:
A few months after we started, in 1952, WHO hired Mary Randolph and gave her a
show of her own. Also, she was added to our show to give it a feminine touch.
Mary came to Des Moines from St. James, Missouri and was a terrific singer, very
smooth and true. Prior to coming to WHO, Mary had work at KWTO in Springfield, Missouri.
She was a singer on that station with Porter Wagoner, Speedy Haworth, and none
other than Chet Atkins. ... Anyway, Mary and I began to include
duets on our shows like, "I'll Never Be Free," "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms,"
and "Columbus Stockade Blues." She was a regular hit on the Iowa Barn Dance
Frolic as well as on personal appearances when she was on the show with us.
With the invention of television, live radio entertainment fell by the wayside.
Corrinne returned home to join the Austin Wood group who had a regular
program on KTTR, Rolla. She was also a regular guest on his television show
which aired from KRCG TV, Jefferson City. While working with Austin, a
request came from Springfield for the "Sagebrush Serenaders" to make a guest
appearance on the popular Red Foley Show "Ozark Jubilee." Don Cornick had taken
the place of Clifford who was no longer singing with the trio.
An operator's job came open at United Telephone Company and Corrinne began
a second career. She retired after 26 years of service when the operation
moved from Rolla.
An active Christian of the Baptist faith since her youth, she was a member
of the First Baptist Church of St. James where she was faithful through the
years to the church music program. For much of her life she was asked to
sing at community events and many weddings. Loved ones will long remember
her comforting words sung at countless funerals.
The later years of Corrinne's life was devoted to being a volunteer
at the St. James Nursing Center. Her life touched so many people she will be
missed by not only her family but a host of friends near and far. Corrinne
was preceded in death by her parents, an infant brother and brother
Clifford. She is survived by a sister, Carmolee Cornick and husband Don, of
Fulton; a nephew, John Cornick, wife Cary, and their children Jamie
and Jessica, of Blue Springs; two nieces, Carol Jo Stumpf, of St. James,
and Catherine Roster, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a
sister-in-law Martha Stumpf, of St. James.
Funeral services for Corrinne were held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 29,
at the First Baptist Church with Dr. Jerry Baumann officiating.
Violin musical selections were provided by Cary Cornick. Organ music by
Connie Rhea. Pallbearers will be friends and family. Interment will be in the
High Gate Baptist Cemetery in High Gate, Missouri.
Memorials may be made to St. James First Baptist Church Organ Fund. Cards are
available at the funeral home.
All arrangements were under the direction of the James and Gahr Mortuary
of St. James, Mo.
St. James Leader-Journal Editor's Note: According to James and Gahr Mortuary, Corrinne Stumpf sang
at over 2,100 funerals over a period of 35 years at their facility alone.
She was truly an amazing woman, and will be sorely missed.
In closing, it seems appropriate that we include a little
anecdote first told to us by Ray Barnard of Ray and Kay, the Banjo Kids of WHO and
again by Zelda Scott, long-time entertainer over WHO about a reunion they had
with Mary back in September 2002.
It perhaps started with a phone call. Zelda Scott was tickled to pick up her phone
one day and hear it was Ray Barnard, a long ago friend from her WHO days. After Ray
hung up, Zelda decided she had to call Mary Randolph. Mary chimed in, "We must
get together". Zelda was doubtful the get together would ever happen.
But September came, and Zelda and her husband flew to Iowa to visit with her sister
she hadn't seen in a few years. Her sister's son and wife, Dwight and Judy, would
take them to St. James, Missouri to see Mary. It was a 200 mile drive and they didn't
get there until about 4:00pm in the afternoon after a late start. Zelda mentions
that after 50 years, she could not imagine how exciting it was.
They had a round of hugs and kisses and a little bit of visiting.
Then the doorbell rang.
Innocently, Mary went to the door as if she didn't know
who might be there. Zelda said she heard someone say, "Are they here yet?". In walked
Ray and Kay, the brother and sister duet team from those long ago days at WHO. It took
Zelda a moment to recognize them as she was a bit shocked and surprised! Zelda
jokingly states "we didn't do much talking". But the reality is, long ago friends
began talking and sharing the memories of those days and taking a few pictures.
Their visit continued and they decided to go out to dinner, with Ray picking up the
tab. They probably might still be talking, but Ray and Kay had to get back to St. Louis
for their early flight back home the next day.
The Renfro Valley Bugle remembered Mary in their June 2004 issue, noting her passing:
"Her velvet-smooth vocals and tasteful guitar works were matched by her gentle smile and winning
—Ray and Kay, the Banjo Kids
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation
to Ray Barnard of Ray and Kay, the Banjo Kids, who worked with Mary when she
was at WHO and Zelda Scott Chandler for providing us with a copy of the
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; January 1947;
Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; New York, NY
- Song and Picture Barn Dance Magazine; February 1948; Issue No. 6; Bill Currie,
President and Publisher; Chicago, IL
- KWTO Dial; January 1949; Springfield, MO
- KWTO Dial; May 1949; Springfield, MO
- Renfro Valley Bugle; July 2001; Renfro Valley, Kentucky (article copy courtesy
of Wayne Daniel)
- St. James Loses a Musical Treasure With the Passing of
Corrinne Stumpf; St. James Leader-Journal; May 5, 2004; St. James, Missouri
- Renfro Valley Bugle; June 2004; Renfro Valley, Kentucky (article copy courtesy
of Wayne Daniel)