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 Harry O. Weger

Harry O. Weger

Birth
Death 23 Apr 2007 (aged 80)
Burial Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana, USA
Plot Chapel of Memories
Memorial ID 27761942 · View Source
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Harry Weger, a rural West Terre Haute resident, who was a pioneer in the world of modern country music, died Monday afternoon, April 23, 2007, following a brief illness. Mr. Weger, who turned 80 just last month, performed and promoted the music which became known as 'the Nashville sound.' Harry Weger was born in Clark County, Ill., in 1927, and spent his boyhood Saturday nights listening to WSM's Grand Ole Opry and dreamed of being on the stage with country legends like Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe.

Today's popular television show, American Idol, catapults new artists into the spotlight, but in the 1940s, live talent shows in small communities were even more popular. When Harry Weger took his guitar and strolled onto the stage by himself, he took home the grand prize of fifteen dollars every time.

In 1949, Roy Acuff and the Smokey Mountain Boys brought their Grand Ole Opry show to the Grand Theater in Terre Haute. Harry auditioned and was invited to perform on the show that night. Harry performed "Love Sick Blues," and the crowd went wild. After several minutes of applause stopped the show, Acuff asked Harry to join his tour and a country music career began. Harry and his wife, Docie, toured with Acuff's show, and every time, Harry's performance would stop the show.

In 1949, Harry signed on with WBOW radio with a show called "Harry Weger — The Hoosier Folk Singer." He performed live, singing and playing his guitar and a following by his fans generated hundreds of letters requesting special songs and dedications every week. He played live concerts in the area and his fan base grew. He eventually put together a band and soon "Harry Weger and the Hoosierland Hoedown" was touring across the country. He eventually performed on all the local radio stations.

ln 1954, the newest media craze, television, hit the Wabash Valley, and Harry Weger signed the station on the air with his show, "Harry Weger, The Bronco Buddy — and the Big Ten Western Feature." The show became a runaway hit with thousands of children signing up for membership in the Bronco Buddy Club. Kids were encouraged to — ‘be a good buddy to everyone you meet.' Weger and his champion trick horse, Cherokee, drew massive crowds whenever they appeared live.

In 1961, Weger's original recording of 'The Ballad of Jimmy Bryan* topped the national charts and moved his popularity into a new generation of fans. Weger*s love of automobile racing was cultivated at the Indianapolis 500 track as well as many dirt tracks around the Midwest. He was especially a fan of Jimmy Bryan who won in Indy in 1958. The Ballad of Jimmy Bryan became the theme song for the racing movie, "The Challenge." The next song Weger penned, titled "The Ragged Edge," caught the attention of producers at Racefilms, Inc., in California, and the movie "The Ragged Edge" was based on the song.

In 1962, Harry Weger was honored by the Grand Ole Opry as Mr. DJ USA, and was thrilled as he was recognized throughout the evening by country music's greatest stars on the stage of the Opry.

Weger and his wife, Docie, were among the first promoters of package shows, which brought together several artists from the Opry in large stage shows. Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, who were members of the Grand Ole Opry, worked with Weger to put together talent for the shows. At a concert set to be held at West Vigo High School, the Wilburn Brothers themselves, and several other artists including what was by now known as 'The Harry Weger Show* were set to perform. Doyle Wilburn called Harry and told him he had a new 'girl singer' and they*d like to bring her along to perform on the show for only $100 as they were trying to promote her. Harry said the show was full and posters were already printed. Wilburn said she could come for only $75. But Weger said the show was a benefit and the school really couldn't afford another performer. So Wilburn said they'd just bring her anyway. That evening when the big Grand Ole Opry bus pulled into the school, the girl singer climbed down off the bus with pink rollers in her hair, sewing the fringe on the dress she would wear that night. It was the first Indiana performance of country legend Loretta Lynn. Ms. Lynn forged a friendship with the Wegers and she wrote to them as she toured the country and her career grew.

Harry and Docie Weger operated a record store in downtown Terre Haute for 16 years. It was not uncommon to see a big Grand Ole Opry tour bus parked outside the record shop while inside such artists as Jimmy Dean, Rex Allen, Bill Andersen, Lester Flatt & Earl Scuggs, and many others tried to convince Harry to come along on the tour — and if not — to play their records on his popular radio show.

Weger's long career spawned numerous awards, including a Sagamore of the Wabash and a Kentucky Colonel honor. He was a member of the Wabash Valley Country Music Hall of Fame. He was a special friend of U.S. Birch Bayh.

He was a member and past master of West Terre Haute Lodge 687 Free & Accepted Masons, a member of Order of Eastern Star Chapter 428 at West Terre Haute, was a former member of Scottish Rite Valley of Terre Haute, a former member of York Rite, a 35 year member of Millwright Union Local 1003, and the Masonic Past Masters Association.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Docie; a daughter and son-in-law, Vicki Weger and Ted Elbert; sons and daughters-in-law, Rex and Rachel Weger, and David and Donna Weger; a sister, Edith Brown of West Terre Haute; grandchildren, Benjamin and Christine Weger, Laura and Jesse Tohill, Courtney Weger, and Natalie and Matt Butler; and four great-grandchildren, Emma, Jesse, and Grace Tohill, and Nicholas Weger. He was preceded in death by his parents; and three sisters, Ruth Brown, Ethel Monnett and Rosemary Beltz.

Services are 1 p.m. Friday in Fitzpatrick- Pearce Funeral Home, 220 N. Third St., West Terre Haute, with the Rev. Chris Wilbur officiating. Entombment will be in the Chapel Of Memories at Roselawn Memorial Park. Visitation is after 3 p.m. Thursday with an Eastern Star service at 7 p.m., followed immediately by a Masonic memorial service. There will also be visitation from 8 a.m. until services Friday. (Published in the Terre Haute "Tribune Star," 4/25/2007.)


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  • Created by: Warrick L. Barrett
  • Added: 23 Jun 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27761942
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harry O. Weger (19 Mar 1927–23 Apr 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27761942, citing Roselawn Memorial Park, Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Warrick L. Barrett (contributor 395) .