Mike Dekle, the songwriter behind country songs recorded by George Jones, Keith Whitley, Kenny Rogers and many more, has died.

According to his obituary, Dekle died on Thursday, Feb. 24, in Athens, Ga., at the age of 77.

Born in Panama City, Fla., Dekle's career as a songwriter took off in the early 1980s after moving to Nashville with a dream of find success as a solo artist. Acclaimed songwriter and producer Byron Hill was one of the first to take a chance on Dekle, agreeing to produce his song "Scarlet Fever." The tune soon caught the ear of Kenny Rogers, who recorded his own version of the track. It went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1983.

Soon after, Dekle signed a deal to write exclusively for Rogers. "Two Hearts, One Love," "People in Love," "Some Prisons Don't Have Walls" and "Someone Must Feel Like a Fool Tonight" are just a few of the songs he wrote for the country legend. After their contractual agreement ended in 1987, Dekle's song "A Day in the Life of a Fool" was recorded by George Jones for his 1988 album He Stopped Loving Her Today, and by Keith Whitley for his 1988 breakthrough LP Don't Close Your Eyes.

In 1997, Tracy Byrd took "Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine," which Dekle co-wrote with Craig Wiseman, into the Top 20 on the country charts. Joe Nichols also made Dekle's "Size Matters (Someday)" a Top 10 hit in 2006.

In recent years, Brantley Gilbert had worked closely with Dekle, co-writing and recording multiple tracks together for his albums Halfway to Heaven, Just As I Am, Read Me My Rights and The Devil Don't Sleep.

Gilbert, who co-wrote his No. 1 hit "Country Must Be Country Wide" with Dekle and Colt Ford, shared a moving tribute to his friend and creative collaborator on Facebook.

"To my brother, Mike Dekle… An old friend that was and always will be family…," Gilbert says. "Thank you for the words and melodies in the songs you left behind… For the memories, the lessons and the legacy…. Yours sincerely is One Hell of an Amen, and we’re all going to miss the hell out of you... But I know where you are… Lookin up to you is nothing new… I love you brother, we all do… Rest easy… You’re gonna need it for when I get there."

When he wasn't writing songs, Dekle worked as a State Farm Insurance Company agent in Athens, Ga., for the past three decades, according to AllMusic.

In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made to Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, American Diabetes Association, Athens First Baptist Church Athens Building Fund or a charity of choice.

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