A sad week for country music gets sadder. Wilma Lee Cooper passed away Tuesday afternoon (9/13).
For decades Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper took their pure mountain sound to the world, first through the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree then through the Grand Ole Opry. They scored charted hits with songs that were unapologetically country in the era of the Nashville Sound: "Come Walk With Me," "Big Midnight Special," and the Don Gibson-penned "There's a Big Wheel."
After Stoney's death from a heart attack in 1977 Wilma Lee remained at the Opry, performing, recording and touring as one of the "Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry."
In 2001 Wilma Lee suffered a debilitating stroke that ended her career. She loved her Opry family (her daughter, Carol Lee, is leader of the background singing group on the Opry) and visited often, earning a standing ovation for merely walking out on the stage in 2005. Her final appearance on the Opry was in 2010, when she participated in the reopening ceremonies for the Opry House following the May 2010 flood.
Farewell to the great Wilma Lee Cooper, who was 90.