Troy Gentry was laid to rest after an emotional memorial service inside a jam-packed Grand Ole Opry House.
'Batman' signals were beamed onto the walls and personal photos and videos of Gentry with his family and of his career in Montgomery Gentry rotated across the Opry’s large screens.
Country music’s best-known singers including Keith Urban, Travis Tritt, Randy Owen, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and Michael Ray waited to hug Gentry’s duo partner Eddie Montgomery.
Gentry was killed Friday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed hours before a show the duo was set to play in Medford, N.J. The singer was 50.
At the request of Gentry’s wife Angie, Little Big Town started his service with a spiritual version of The Star-Spangled Banner. As the group’s famous harmonies filled the room, member Kimberly Schlapman quickly wiped away a tear.
The service included songs from country music stars as well as Gentry’s close friends. Duo Halfway 2 Hazard performed, explaining that Gentry — a Grand Ole Opry member since Montgomery Gentry was inducted in 2009 — promised he would help them play on the famous stage.
And now, duo members pointed out, they had. As Halfway 2 Hazard sang "My Old Kentucky Home," mourners respectfully stood up.
Gentry’s long-time friend Rafael Calderon spoke of Gentry’s love for his family — wife Angie and daughters Taylor and Kaylee, his obsession with Batman, and his adoration for Mickey Mouse and the holidays.
Calderon said Gentry had a different Mickey Mouse shirt for every day they were at Disney World and that he transformed his home into a haunted house every Halloween. As soon as the Halloween decorations were taken down, Calderon recalled Gentry would ask him to come over and help hang thousands of Christmas lights. With Batman’s famed insignia displayed on his jacket, he laughed as he shared his friend’s love of the super hero.
Calderon said, “I’m not saying Troy was Batman. I’m just saying no one has ever seen Troy and Batman in the same room. He always said, ‘You don’t need superpowers to be a super hero.’”
Trace Adkins said it was always a privilege to share the Opry stage with Gentry and that it was still a privilege. Family friend and Elvis impersonator Cody Ray Slaughter covered Kentucky Rain and Charlie Daniels, who delivered the invitation for Montgomery Gentry to join the Opry eight years ago, sang "How Great Thou Art."
But it was Vince Gill’s emotional plea to Montgomery that again moved the auditorium to tears.
Gill said, “We feel like family and we are family. I would encourage Eddie to lean on this (Opry) family. It’s a good one. Don’t disappear. This family has a long history of loss.”
By DERYL DODD