Charlie Dick, the widower of singer Patsy Cline, died Sunday (Nov. 8) at his home in Nashville at the age of 81. He had assiduously represented Cline’s musical and personal legacy since she was killed in a plane crash on March 5, 1963, while returning home to Nashville from a concert.
Dick was Cline’s second husband – her first having been Gerald Cline, to whom she was married for the previous four years before marrying Dick in 1957. Dick and she had a daughter and a son together, and Dick later fathered a son with singer Jamey Ryan.
In her 1999 biography, Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline, Margaret Jones described Dick as a feisty, hard-drinking high school dropout when he met the singer for the first time in 1956 at the Berryville Community Center in their native Virginia, where she was performing on Friday nights.
Married at the time and focusing on her career, Cline initially rebuffed Dick’s transparent advances, Jones says. But she ultimately relented and began dating him a few weeks later.
After leaving school, Dick had learned to be a linotypist – a highly skilled typesetter. He continued that trade after he and Cline moved from Virginia and settled in Nashville. He later became a promotion representative for Starday King Records. For years, his was a familiar face and convivial presence at the annual R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) award ceremonies.
Blake Mevis, who produced George Strait’s breakthrough albums and wrote some of his early hits, said in a Facebook post that Dick gave him his start in the music business.
Mevis said he endeared himself to Dick by complimenting him on his 1970 Cadillac convertible. On the spot, Mevis said, Dick drafted him as a chauffeur. “Get in,” he recalled Dick saying. “You’re driving and I’m drinking and I’m taking your ass downtown and introducing you to some folks on Music Row.”
One of those folks was Loretta Lynn’s husband, Mooney, who took a liking to Mevis and soon hired him to help run his wife’s publishing company.
Sweet Dreams, a major movie about Cline’s life, was released in 1985, with Jessica Lange playing Cline and Ed Harris portraying Dick. At that time, People magazine ran a story on Dick in which it reported that he had designated a separate room in his home for his wife’s memorabilia.
He served as an advisor to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2012 when it created the “Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You” exhibit. Singer Mandy Barnett, who played the title-role in the long-running stage play, Always … Patsy Cline, credited Dick for making substantial efforts to keeping Cline’s music and memory alive.
Funeral plans for Dick have not been announced.