Troy Gentry Remembered as Devoted Friend, Family Man at Celebration of Life [Pictures]
Troy Gentry was remembered as a man who always tried to be the best version of himself during a 90-minute-long celebration of life at the Grand Ole Opry on Thursday (Sept. 14).
Speakers included the Montgomery Gentry singer's closest friends, his pastor and the country music community. Perhaps the most memorable moments came from men fans watching online were learning about for the first time. Longtime friend Rafael Calderon spoke at length about Gentry's love of family, Batman, faith and friendship. He brought some levity to an appropriately somber affair when he revealed that Gentry decorated his house so well during Halloween that one year he made his son pee his pants.
Dr. Michael L. Glenn, who is the senior pastor at the Brentwood Baptist Church Gentry and his family attended, gave perhaps the best eulogy. While others had talked about the 50-year-old's acceptance of God in his life, Dr. Glenn added details of the early journey. Wife Angie, he says, would have to drag the singer to service. During his final days and weeks, he was much closer to God, which made the tragic death so much more painful.
"This was a guy that was on his way," Dr. Glenn said. He also shared a few details about how word spread last Friday, revealing that Angie Gentry was trying to reach him, but it was singing partner Eddie Montgomery who eventually got him on the phone to share the news of Gentry's death. If he was in New Jersey prior to the helicopter crash, he'd have urged Gentry not to get on board. He conceded that the singer would have smiled and said something like "I'm Batman" and done it anyway.
"Batman is mortal," the pastor reminded a hushed live audience. Many in attendance wore Batman T-shirts, and one speaker had a Batman bowtie and pocket square. Pictures further show Montgomery Gentry's late frontman's love of the superhero.
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Little Big Town began the performances with the National Anthem, but others were scattered between speakers. "Anytime I shared this stage with Troy was a privilege. Today's no different," Trace Adkins said before performing "Wayfaring Stranger." Fellow Kentuckians Halfway to Hazard also took the stage, as did a hatless, well-dressed Charlie Daniels, the man who invited Montgomery Gentry to join the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. The country legend sang "How Great Thou Art."
Vince Gill also took the stage, opening with a joke before mixing smiles and teardrops. "I'm so grateful I'm not singing 'Go Rest High on That Mountain' for once!" he cracked, but the song he was asked to play still choked him up. "Whenever You Come Around" was Troy and Angie's song, and his performance was beautiful, if difficult to get through.
As this was a celebration of life for Gentry's friends and family, Gill gave emphatic advice to Eddie Montgomery, telling him to lean into his Grand Ole Opry family. "This family has a long history of loss," he said, tearing up before repeating the sentiment to a round of grand applause from the Opry house. It was the only time cameras turned to Angie Gentry and Montgomery, who was seen wiping away tears and hugging Ricky Skaggs. He was wearing a tuxedo and his signature hat in the shadows of the lower level.
Master of Ceremonies Storme Warren closed with some final remarks that recalled his opening comments about continuing Gentry's journey on his behalf, and living out the five things he learned from his longtime friend, in reverse order. Trust God first, he said. And then love, protect and adore your family, treat every human being with respect, act like a kid all the time and never stop risk-taking.
A theme of redemption or of becoming a better man tied many speeches and performances together. Fittingly, the service closed with Montgomery Gentry's new song "Better Me," released to select radio stations and satellite radio on Wednesday and 7digitally on Friday (Sept. 15).
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