John Wynn, R.I.P.

We received this note from Nancy Cardwell at IBMA.

John Wynn, builder of Wynn mandolins and banjos and  the banjo player/band leader along with his wife, Betty of their family band, SouthWynn, passed away early this morning, Wednesday, August 11,  at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Mo. after fighting cancer for the past few years. John was included in the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s Video Oral History documentary film series, and he was recognized onstage at RiverPark Center during ROMP last June in Owensboro, Ky., as a pioneer of bluegrass music for his contributions as a luthier and musician in Missouri and California.  He was actively involved in the Bluegrass Society of the Ozarks for a number of years, and John’s shop was the center of the bluegrass community for many in the Ozarks during the past 35 years—a place to buy an instrument or get one repaired, meet other musicians, jam, pat a Welsh Corgi dog on the head, or just sip a cup of vintage coffee and shoot the breeze. His family band performed for years at Silver Dollar City music festivals and local restaurants, and both John & Betty volunteered at World of Bluegrass in recent years.

Two of John’s sons, Berry  and John Wynn, Jr.  are bandleaders of the popular Missouri-based group, Fly by Night. John’s, granddaughter, Casey Grimes Freeland, played bass with Fly By Night for a number of years, as well as with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike. While she was in Nashville she worked for IBMA as a temp staffer and for Keith Case & Associates, and now she’s playing bass & singing  with Midnight Flight while also running the Casey Freeland Agency based in Nebraska.

Visitation will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, August 13 at the Adams Funeral Home in Nixa, Mo. and the funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 14. Cards may be sent to the family c/o John’s shop address:

Wynn Mandolins
2488 Huntington Road
Ozark, MO 65721

On a personal note, the Wynn and Cardwell families have been close friends for more than three decades, and I’ll miss John a lot. He was one of my dad’s best friends, and it will seem very strange not to be able to stop by his shop on Hwy 65 on the way to Branson to talk and catch up on things, the next time I’m in Missouri. I hear that Berry intends to continue with the instrument building business, and I wish him the best of luck.

-Nancy Cardwell

Bluegrass Today extends our sympathies to the Wynn family.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.