Fans will look in vain for Tammy Wynette’s tomb at Nashville’s Woodlawn Cross Mausoleum, where the singer was laid to rest in 1998. Her grave hasn’t been moved, but the name on it was changed recently from “Tammy Wynette” to “Virginia W Richardson.”
Wynette’s given name was Virginia Wynette Pugh. Her husband at the time of her death was George Richey, whose birth name was Richardson.
Wynette and Richey were married from 1978 until her death.
A spokeswoman for the funeral home that houses the mausoleum told CMT.com the name was changed “a couple of weeks ago at the request of the family.” However, a second source at the funeral home estimated the name was changed “four to six months” ago.
It is against the funeral home’s policy to reveal who specifically authorized the change.
Sources did confirm, however, that the unmarked tomb located directly above Wynette’s is Richey’s. He died in 2010. While his tomb carries no permanent identifying marks, it was festooned with a bouquet of roses and cards bearing messages of affection from his children.
Richey was survived by his fourth wife, Sheila Slaughter Richey, whom he married in 2001, a daughter from that marriage and a daughter and a son from his first marriage.
Efforts to reach Wynette’s and Richey’s survivors or representatives to ask about the switch were unsuccessful.
An element of mystery also accompanied Richey’s own death, which wasn’t made public until more than three weeks after it occurred. There was no public memorial, and his place of burial was not announced at the time.
It is physically simple to change names at the mausoleum since they are posted in metal letters attached to the surface of the marble rather than engraved into it.
Photographs of how Wynette’s tomb originally appeared can be seen at www.findagrave.com.
Wynette’s and Richey’s tombs are in the same large building that contains the cemetery offices.
Many other celebrities are also entombed there, including Eddy Arnold, Owen Bradley, Johnny Paycheck, Red Foley, Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins, Mel Street, Porter Wagoner, Red Sovine, Jerry Reed and the songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.