It was a year of highs and lows for Loretta Lynn. The singer suffered through the loss of her daughter and major damage to her ranch, but also received one of the President’s highest honors.
Loretta’s daughter, Betty Sue Lynn, died July 29 at her home in Waverly, Tenn., from complications of emphysema. “Loretta and her family thank friends and fans for their thoughts and prayers during this time of great loss,” Loretta’s publicist said at the time.
In January of 2013, Loretta’s ranch, Hurricane Mills, suffered heavy damage after severe storms ripped through Middle Tennessee. Storms leveled parts of her ranch, uprooting hundreds of trees and forcing Loretta to take cover in a closet. While Loretta has lived on the 6,500-acre ranch for more than 20 years, the ranch is also a tourist attraction. At the time of the storms, three campers were on the property.
“It was intense. I mean, it was intense,” camper Scott Myers said. “We heard it, but there was no time to go anywhere,” added camper Jim Watson. “We just had to ride it out.”
Damages were estimated to be as much as $100,000. Then in February, a fire on the property destroyed the cook shack, used to prepare food for trail riders. Crews worked tirelessly to repair the ranch for visitors, but Loretta’s Bi Annual Trail Ride, scheduled for September 2-7, had to be canceled due to damages. She was able to welcome visitors, however, for her inaugural Loretta Lynn’s Gospel Music Festival a few weeks later.
2013 ended on a high note for Loretta. In November, she was among 16 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony. The President told the crowd that Loretta’s first success came at age 19 when she won 17 blue ribbons at a local fair for her canned vegetables.
“Fortunately for all of us, she decided to try her hand at things other than canning,” Obama said. “Her first guitar cost $17 and with it this coal miner’s daughter gave voice to a generation singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about. And now over 50 years after she cut her first record, Loretta Lynn still reigns as the rule-breaking , record-setting queen of country music.”