JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Country music artist Porter Wagoner was honored with a small ceremony as he was officially inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians Monday, 154 miles from Poplar Bluff.
Wagoner, who died in 2007 at the age of 80, was from West Plains. Known for his flamboyant rhinestone suits, Wagoner was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. He opened for the White Stripes at Madison Square Garden, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast, and had dozens of hit singles.
But he was also well known for his “discovery” of a young Dolly Parton, Shawn Neathery Marhefka, vice president of Ozark Marketing, said Monday during the ceremony on the House floor. The pair created multiple hit duets together and he featured her prominently on his shows throughout the years.
“I am so happy to know that Porter is being inducted,” Parton said in a video message played at the event. “Porter meant so much to me and so much to my life and to my career. He was a wonderful singer, songwriter, guitar player … I’m proud of him, and I’m proud for all of you.”
Christina McCormick, Wagoner’s granddaughter, traveled about five hours from her home in Kentucky to attend Monday’s event. She said her family is “so thankful” for the inclusion of Wagoner in the Hall of Famous Missourians.
“The one thing that I know he taught me is to be strong and true to myself. Just the fact that he was so strong and spoke the truth through so many of his songs is why he was as successful as he was. People want to hear the truth, McCormick told The Missouri Times.
Wagoner was nominated to the hall by former House Speaker Todd Richardson. Kansas City-based sculptor E. Spencer Schubert created the bust which will reside in the Capitol Rotunda.
Among Wagoner’s hits is a duet with Parton, called “Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff.” He was also affectionately dubbed “The Thin Man From West Plains.”
He got his start on a local radio show before he was hired to perform on a Springfield station by Si Siman. Eventually, Wagoner signed with RCA Records and embraced television success as he starred on “The Porter Wagoner Show.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.