Sally Gayhart Arnold, the woman who gave meaning to husband
Eddy Arnold's love songs, died Tuesday in a Williamson County hospital.
She was 87.
For more than 66 years, the couple had one of the greatest romances
in the history of country music. The news of Mrs. Arnold's death came
late Tuesday afternoon as her country music legend husband, now 89,
remained in a Davidson County hospital after undergoing hip replacement surgery last week.
Married on Nov. 28, 1941, the couple's relationship to friends and
family epitomized commitment, devotion and teamwork.
"I can tell you one thing, that she was willing to share him with the whole
world because she knew how much he loved her," said country singer Jim Ed Brown,
a close friend.
"I know that she just loved him and wanted him to have everything. He is a hard
worker. He is a great gentlemen, and she was a loving, caring wife. Sally was behind
him in everything he wanted to do."
Described as two peas in a pod, they both enjoyed a good laugh and a great bargain.
In the last few years, the two relished morning walks together.
"He loved to go and have lunch and be with people, but she was not doing well,"
Brown said. "He would go and get a sandwich and take it home, and they would share
the sandwich for lunch every day. He was still working, up until very recently, in
his office every day, and he would always come back to her."
Mrs. Arnold was hospitalized over the weekend for breathing difficulties, said her
son-in-law, Richard Pollard.
The two met in Louisville, Ky., where Mr. Arnold was playing with Pee Wee King, said
Don Cusic, author of Eddy Arnold: I'll Hold You In My Heart. "I think she might
have asked for his autograph after a show," he said. Arnold, who is a member of
the Country Music Hall of Fame, has sold more than 85 million records and had
hits such as "Make the World Go Away" and "Bouquet of Roses."
"She helped him a lot in his career," Cusic said. "He told me more than once
that if it hadn't been for her, he wouldn't have had the career he had. She supported
him and took care of the books a lot. It was a real partnership."
The day after the couple married, he departed to join the Camel Caravan Tour. The bride
was kept company in her new home by her mother-in-law.
While Mr. Arnold toured, Mrs. Arnold ran the show at home, where she raised their son
and daughter. She also donated her time to help local charities, including the Fannie
Battle Day Home. "She kept him grounded," Cusic said. "Stars can lose perspective so
easily, but he was always down to earth, and she was a major reason for it.
The Arnolds' last few days were spent apart as they underwent treatment at different
hospitals in different counties. In the end, after all of the success, money and fame,
the only thing that mattered was being with each other.
Brown visited with Mr. Arnold earlier this week. "He wanted to be with her because he
knew something was wrong, and he couldn't. He made the statement, 'There is only one
thing I want, and money can't buy it.' I know what he wanted was to be with her."
Mrs. Arnold is survived by her husband; their children, Richard Edward Jr.
of Nashville and Jo Ann Pollard, of Brentwood; and two grandchildren.
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