Loretta Lynn’s impact remembered in southwest Virginia

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 1:26 AM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Herm Reavis has been a special part of the Roanoke Valley radio waves for decades. In the late 1960s, Reavis was the sales manager at WSLS radio, which later became WSLC radio in the 1970s. But he remembers the days when the Salem Rodeo got its start.

“The rodeo is one of many successful activities at the Salem Civic Center. Because of its success, it just kept repeating, repeating, coming back and back. We were fortunate that the first rodeo owned by Loretta Lynn was very successful, so success breeds success, so she kept coming back, kept coming back.”

Reavis said in the 1970s there wasn’t a stage around; he said they just pulled up a flatbed truck and Lynn and her band performed for the crowds. He was able to interact with Lynn in her stops here, which he said was always special.

“She was just a super special personality, she loved everybody. The old saying ‘I’ve never met a stranger,’ she didn’t.”

Reavis also remembered the times when Lynn was out of the spotlight, on occasion taking the time to do free concerts at the Salem VA Medical Center.

“As they could, they moved some of the patients, wheelchairs, crutches and whatnot into that little auditorium, that would hold maybe 60, 70 people and she did a concert for them that was just so meaningful.”

Reavis, like many, heard the news Tuesday of Lynn’s passing, saying she leaves quite a legacy and is a special part of country music history.

“She lived her music, she wrote her songs. She wrote stories of her life, experiences of her life and that was relayed through her music.”