Merle Haggard’s Oldest Daughter, Dana, Has Died
Merle Haggard's oldest daughter, Dana Haggard, has died. Her brother, Ben, shared the news with his followers on social media, revealing that she passed on Tuesday (April 10).
The younger Haggard did not share a cause or any circumstances around the 61-year-old's death, saying only that the photo he chose in an Instagram post "absolutely broke my heart."
"I know she’s hugging dads arm again. I’ll miss you sister RIP," Ben Haggard writes.
Dana's sister, Kelli Haggard Patterson, tells the Bakersfield Caliornian that Dana died in her sleep Monday night or Tuesday morning. She believes it was of natural causes, but adds that her sister had been experiencing some heartache as the two-year anniversary of her father's death came and went.
"Dana was my best friend and we talked several times a day," Patterson says. "This is like having a limb removed."
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According to Dana Haggard's Facebook page, she was married and lived in Russellville, Ark., though she was born in Bakersfield, Calif. She was the first of four children for Merle Haggard and Leona Hobbs, and like her full siblings did not know her dad very well until later in life, as he was often in trouble with the law and then touring.
In fact, Rolling Stone once recalled that on the day Dana was born, the then 19-year-old country icon was in jail for car theft. While she was still an infant, Merle Haggard was put away for five years after trying to break into a diner. The country legend would also father a son from another relationship and two kids with his fifth and final wife, Theresa.
Ben Haggard is Merle and Theresa Haggard's son — a half-brother to Dana.
Dana was a backup singer in the Strangers, Haggard's backing band for many years. She also formed the short-lived Marty and Dana and the Driftwood Band with her brother Marty. This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
According to the Bakersfield Californian, Dana Haggard leaves behind her husband Terry Lemons, four children (Mathew, Kelli, Jarod and Michael) a stepson named Austin and nine grandchildren.
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