Lexington native Troy Gentry, half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, was remembered today by friends and colleagues in a memorial service at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He died Friday in a helicopter crash in New Jersey. Montgomery Gentry, which included fellow Kentuckian Eddie Montgomery, became members of the Opry in 2009 and have performed there many times.
1:36: The service concluded with the playing of the new Montgomery Gentry song, “Better Me,” which echoed what several speakers had said about Gentry getting closer to God and settling down. Following the Opry service a private service and interment were planned.
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1:29: Vince Gill directly addressed Eddie Montgomery telling him to lean on the Grand Ole Opry family in coming days. “Don’t disappear,” he told Montgomery. In one of the only times the camera of the live feed turned on the audience, Montgomery could be seen being embraced by several people, including fellow Kentuckian Ricky Skaggs.
Gill, who choked up several times in his introduction, said he was asked to sing “Whenever You Come Around,” a favorite of Gentry’s, and noted it was one of the few times he had not been asked to sing “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”
1:19: Rev. Michael L. Glenn, Gentry’s pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church, said Gentry’s passing was frustrating because he was at a point he had his priorities in order and was in a good relationship with God. He echoed the frequently shared sentiment that Gentry had become his best self. He said he wished he could have been in New Jersey and talked Gentry out of the helicopter ride that took his life. “The risk of losing him is easier than the risk of him never being part of your life. He was worth the risk.”
1:07: Charlie Daniels, in a rare appearance without his cowboy hat, says, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I thank you Lord for letting us have Troy before you took him back,” before playing “How Great Thou Art.”
1:02: Troy Gentry friend Rafael Calderon gave a eulogy, recalling a merry prankster and devoted family man who loved Disney and Batman. He concluded saying he believed Gentry would say, “’Don’t cry because I am gone. Smile because I lived,’ and boy, did he live.”
12:50: Elvis tribute artist Cody Ray Slaughter sang one of Gentry’s favorite songs, “Kentucky Rain,” saying it was “for my big brother, Troy.”
12:45: Trace Adkins takes the stage saying, “Anytime I ever shared this stage with Troy, it was a privilege, and that’s no different today. ... paying my respects to a good man.”
12:39: Lunn addresses Gentry’s widow, Angie, saying, “You were his rock, you were where he could be himself. You were his safe place.”
12:35: Family friend Eddie Lunn spoke, wearing a Batman bowtie and matching handkerchief, recalling his relationship with a breakfast accountability group. He says following the command “Love God and love others,” gave him purpose in life. “He had loving others down.” Says Gentry’s smile, was “a gift to all of us.”
12:25: After an emotional eulogy by Storme Warren of GAC, Halfway to Hazard played “My Old Kentucky Home,” David Tolliver wiping away tears as he left the stage.
12:13: Video does not appear to be streaming at the link, above, but if you click the play on the WSM link, you can hear it.