PIKE Co., Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 5-15-14
By: Hillary Thornton
Saying goodbye to a mountain legend. Folks filled the old University of Pikeville gym on Thursday to say farewell to the 'Mountain Santa Claus', Marlow Tackett.
Tackett often served as a comforting voice and shoulder to lean on across the region.
The singer ran a popular nightclub for years and helped thousands of people through his Christmas for the needy event.
He was a man who many called friend...because it can be said, Marlow Tackett, never met a stranger.
Earle Bone says, "Marlow was the type of person, you talked to him for five minutes and you thought he was your best friend...forever."
On Thursday, dozens of friends gathered with Tackett's family to remember a man who dedicated his life to making others lives better even when he was sick.
When asked a word to describe Tackett, Bone says, "Heart. He had a big heart."
Patrick Owens says, "He was just trying to get through life and help others get through life."
Whether it was through music, his love of horses, or his Christmas party for the needy...whatever he did he gave it his all, always for others.
"There is not a more caring, more giving individual that I know of," says Gary Kinzer.
Even through all the material items he gave away, it is his message of faith folks say is the most important gift he leaves.
"I know where he is at, he had a home going. I really do believe that and I know that for a fact," says Owens.
It is because of that faith friends and family say they know Tackett is still singing and saving them all a spot in the choir of angels.
UPDATE 05-13-14 11 p.m.
Friends, family, and members of the community are saying their goodbyes to well known Eastern Kentucky singer and humanitarian, Marlow Tackett.
Tackett died Saturday at 70-years-old.
Tackett's visitation was Tuesday at Pilgrim's Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church.
We spoke with his sons, daughters, and friends who said he really loved this region.
"I've had calls from Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Michigan," said son David Tackett. "I mean daddy touched people all over the United States."
Everywhere they went David Tackett said someone knew his dad. Which was evident by the packed Pike County church. Folks across the county said Marlow Tackett was a giving man.
"He'll be missed by those in need," said Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford. "He'll be remembered by the thousands he helped."
Family members and friends said they are holding tight to their memories.
"He was such a loving father," said daughter Alissha Isaacs. "He was a loving grandfather and such a great friend."
The visitation for Tackett will continue Wednesday at six at the Pilgrim Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church, with nightly services beginning at seven p.m.
His funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at the old University of Pikeville gymnasium. Tackett's burial will follow in Dorton.
Marlow Tackett, the well-known country music singer from Eastern Kentucky, has died.
For 35 years, he organized "Marlow Tackett's Christmas for the Needy," which provided toys, clothes, furniture, and other necessities to thousands of area children.
"The greatest way I could ever celebrate, such a great event is for those little children to smile," Tackett said in 2008.
Family and friends say Tackett never met a stranger, and would do anything he could to help anybody.
"From the time he was a real young boy he was like that," said Tackett's relative Hester Baker. "He never looked at one person without love. He loved everybody."
Originally from Dorton in Pike County, he lived in Elizebethton, Tennessee by the end of his life.
Tackett enjoyed some success in Nashville in his time, and his love of music came at an early age.
"I played music on everything. Everything was a guitar to me. I'd beat old barb-wired fences and get the sound and sing with them," Tackett said in 2013.
Tackett had always said he hoped his Christmas give-away would last as an inspiration to others.
"I want them to look with their heart and not only their eyes. I hope that some of those people watching this tonight would share this story with somebody else," he said.
Marlow's message of love and compassion is what family members say they hope will live on.
A well known Eastern Kentucky country singer has died.
Marlow Tackett died Saturday at the age of 70.
Tackett was living in Elizabethton, Tennessee. We are told he had been fighting cancer since last year.
We will bring you more information as it becomes available.