Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

January 23, 2013

Music legend stayed true to roots

Lifelong entertainer remembered for deep love of family, fans

Athens — The bright stage lights would go dim and the dressing rooms full of entertainers would empty, signaling the end of another successful jamboree or showcase.

It was in these twilight moments of performance that country music legend Tony Douglas would shine brightest. He would stay after shows for hours, if need be, to shake hands, trade stories and sign autographs for fans eager to have just a moment of face time with the uncommonly accessible and affable Texan.

“He loved his fans — period,” said Douglas’ son, Hank. “His fans were his friends.”

Douglas, known to family and friends alike as “Papa T,” died Tuesday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 83.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Athens with Larry Fondren officiating.

For more than three decades, Tony Douglas and The Shrimpers traveled the country, voicing a musical twang rooted along the banks of his beloved Kickapoo Creek and refined by a lifelong love of East Texas. He was born April 12, 1929, in Martin’s Mill and never wandered much farther away than Athens, where he lived for 54 years with his wife, Margaret.

Douglas’ love of the area was none more apparent than in the late 1950s, when he famously turned down a contract offer with the Grand Ole Opry upon learning the agreement would have forced his family to move to Nashville.

If the surprising decision hurt the career arc that was propelling his contemporaries to superstardom, Douglas’ fans didn’t seem to notice. In 1961, he gained national attention with his song, “Shrimpin,” a tune so popular that his band — once known as the Country Gentlemen — were soon referred to as “The Shrimpers.”

After “Shrimpin,” Douglas recorded “His n’ Hers,” an album that sold 750,000 copies and cracked the Top 30 on the music charts. Another hit, “Thank You For Touching My Life,” appeared in the Top 40 in 1972.

In 1995, a year or two after he opened his popular “Papa T’s” produce shop on State Highway 19 south, Douglas was inducted into the Country Music Association of Texas Hall of Fame.

Though Douglas’ status as a legendary musician was earned on the road, his legacy was forged at home with his family.

Douglas’ children, who spent many hours by their father’s side as he remained hospitalized in intensive care over the past two weeks, remembered their dad as a man of strong discipline, strong faith, unshakeable patriotism and undying love of family.

“He loved his music, he loved his family and he loved the Lord,” his daughter, Tonya Mowery, said.

Mowery said the children were blessed to have grown up in a household where their parents would continually say, “I love you.”

That message was hammered home all the more by the love exhibited between Tony and Margaret, known as “Mim” by most. They would have been married 64 years this coming March.

“It’s blown my mind to see how strong she’s been over the past two weeks,” said Hank, who was not only named after his father’s musical idol, Hank Williams, but who also has the claim to fame of once being babysat by Patsy Cline.

Jason, the youngest of the siblings, said his parents did more than talk about love and sacrifice. He recalled a time when, as a child, a man approached his father asking for money for Christmas. It was a lot to ask, considering money was tight for the Douglas family, as well,

Never one to deny a favor, Douglas retreated to a back room, and returned with a $100-bill in hand, which he then handed to the man.

Such acts of kindness didn’t go unnoticed, even if they never became widely known.

“I know they did without so I could have things,” Jason said. “But they were that way with anybody.”

———

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Landmark Baptist Church, 1313 Palestine Highway, Athens, Texas, 75751, or an organization of choice.

Also, the Douglas family wishes to offer special thanks to Dr. Doug Curran and the ICU staff at East Texas Medical Center in Athens.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 2726192_300x300.jpg Darin Karl found Thursday on Cedar Creek Lake

    The body of a 42-year-old man who had been missing in Cedar Creek Lake was recovered on Thursday.
    The drowning victim was identified as Darin Lynn Karl of Kemp. According to Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Karl and his nephew were fishing near Cedar Creek Country Club when the boat overturned, ejecting the men. 

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif AISD approves moving monthly meeting, additional drug testing

    Discussion on meal prices for the 2014-15 school year was pulled from Thursday's Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees agenda but other items were approved that will bring about change in the district.
    By unanimous decision, the school board approved changes to the scheduled date for its monthly meetings; additional drug testing on the high school campus and modification to the graduation policy.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 drugs.tif Prescription Drug Take Back Day April 26

    On Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Athens Police Department and Keep Athens Beautiful will host the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, giving the public its seventh opportunity in four years to prevent pill abuse and theft.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif Feud between Tool VFDs extends to city council

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Would Lake Athens residents suffer if city controls water?

    Members of Lake Athens Property Owners Association have been watching the dispute between the City of Athens and the Athens Municipal Water Authority uncertain of how this will affect their future.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Hot issue

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Surplus property to be moved or demolished

    Athens Independent School District purchased property at 404 Royall Street during its March school board meeting with the intent to square off property previously purchased by the district.
    During Thursday's school board meeting, a unanimous decision was made to designate the property as surplus and advertise the home to be moved or demolished.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0077.JPG Taste of Home Cooking School

    The Taste of Home Cooking School was held Thursday at the Cain Center. Hundreds attended the events that was sponsored by Cole A/C and the Athens Daily Review.
     

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif City, AMWA differ on future management of water supply

    The 57-year relationship between the Athens Municipal Water Authority and the City of Athens grew stormy in 2013 because of a disagreement over who should pay certain bills.
    The difference-of-opinion led to the Authority filing suit against the city last December, and the city responding by setting the wheels in motion that slated a May 10 election to decide whether to abolish AMWA.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 Easter.jpg Excited and ready

    Lexie and Isabella Hawkins are excited and ready for the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at 9 a.m. in Kiwanis Park.  Bicycles, rabbits and lots of Easter Eggs will be waiting for you. Everyone is welcome, and of course the Easter Bunny will be there.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo