Patsy Stoneman, described as “country music royalty” because of her long relationship with the iconic Stoneman family of talented musicians, died in her sleep on July 23, 2015, at the age of 90. She had been in failing health for about a year.
Pattie Inez “Patsy” Stoneman was born May 27, 1925, in Galax, Virginia, to Ernest V ‘Pop’ Stoneman and Hattie Frost Stoneman, on the day that her father recorded The Dying Girl’s Farewell and Piney Woods Girl (with Emmet Lundy) in Manhattan, New York City, for Okeh Records.
As is evident, Patsy grew up surrounded by music and musicians, although her elder siblings saw music as a recreational past-time rather than a full-time occupation.
Patsy grew up to be very strongly independent-minded woman.
In 1942, aged just 17 years, she became Mrs Charles Streeks, after just a week of first meeting her future husband.
Through to mid-1963 her life was one of hardship, relationship difficulties, emotional turmoil, and illness; she became involved with another man, thinking that her husband had been killed in automobile crash and underwent surgery for breast cancer.
For her convalescence Patsy went to her parents’ home in Carmody Hills, Maryland, but in May 1963 she married again; this time enjoying a happy but brief relationship as her husband died as a result of an automobile accident just one year later.
Patsy would play music in the family band as and when she could, adopting the autoharp, the instrument that her father often played. Likewise she would play guitar on occasions.
As a part of her personal rehabilitation she started her own band that could at times be described as bluegrass or country depending on personnel. They would include Red Allen, Porter Church, Buzz Busby, Bill Emerson, Ed Ferris, Roy Self, brother Scott Stoneman and the Yates brothers, Bill and Wayne, and all served in the group in the five years during which Patsy kept it together.
When she re-joined the family band the Stonemans recorded for RCA Victor, CMH Records, Stonehouse, Heritage, Rutabaga, MGM and Old Homestead among other labels.
Patsy Stoneman recorded an album, Patsy Sings Pop … Stoneman That Is!, of Pop Stoneman’s songs.
From September 1977 Patsy took on the role of unofficial manager for the Stonemans’ band and, in time, she assumed a matriarchal position and became the family member to whom her siblings would look to for guidance in times of difficulty or duress.
Through all of her experiences – she lived through the Depression and other economic turmoil such that for some time she lived in what has been described as a “chicken coop” – Patsy gained a toughness that made her typical of the great survivors.
During her lifetime Patsy Stoneman saw the beginning of country, bluegrass and rock-‘n’-roll music.
Only Donna and Ronnie Stoneman now remain of ‘Pop’ and Hattie’s children.