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2004 Obit: Cleda Driftwood (widow of Jimmy)


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GUEST,Dale 30 Apr 04 - 08:44 PM
open mike 30 Apr 04 - 08:54 PM
Art Thieme 30 Apr 04 - 09:38 PM
Big Jim from Jackson 01 May 04 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Arkie 01 May 04 - 11:34 AM
harpgirl 01 May 04 - 12:29 PM
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Subject: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 08:44 PM

This is from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and will not be on line by tomorrow except for paid subscribers, unless they make exception to their usual policy.

Festival co-founder , dead at 86, created a haven for folk music
Posted on Friday, April 30, 2004

TIMBO — Cleda Azalea Driftwood, who along with her husband, Jimmy, founded the Arkansas Folk Festival, died Sunday at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville at age 86.

Cleda and the late Jimmy Driftwood also helped turn Mountain View into the "Folk Music Capital of the World."

A Timbo resident, Cleda Driftwood was secretary of the Rackensack Folksong Society, a collection of folk musicians who played at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn. Jimmy Driftwood wrote the songs "The Battle of New Orleans" and "The Tennessee Stud" and won two Grammys.

Jack Morris, a nephew of Cleda Driftwood, called her "a wonderful person" and said that she was Jimmy's backup singer. "When he got lost on a song, she kept him on track," Morris said.

She first met Jimmy Driftwood when she was in the sixth-grade and he taught her class. They married seven years later, in 1936. He died in Fayetteville on July 12, 1998.

Cleda Driftwood graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and taught for more than 33 years. She taught third grade in Timbo and Mountain View and also taught in neighboring communities.

She was born March 1, 1918, to Charles McCallister and Delphina A. Goodman Johnson.

Her grandfather, Jess Goodman, was a prominent Timbo businessman and owned the horse on which "The Tennessee Stud" was based.

In May 2002, she donated $2,500 to the Western Arkansas/Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

The Jimmy and Cleda Driftwood Scholarship at the University of Central Arkansas honors students majoring in music, poetry and history. The Jimmy Driftwood Barn, a farm and other donations were given to the university.

Cleda Driftwood died of complications from injuries she suffered in an April 1999 collision with a dump truck.

A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Monday at Timbo Valley Assembly of God, with the Rev. David Campbell officiating.

A memorial fund has been established at the Bank of Mountain View, with proceeds going to Timbo Public Schools.

This article, at
The University of Central Arkansas, should last a bit longer.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: open mike
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 08:54 PM

Azalea is a beautiful name, and the wild azaleas are blooming here now.
I will remember her when i see them! Condolences to family, friends and
fans. Laurel

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Subject: RE: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 09:38 PM

I'm so sorry to hear this. I knew two other women named Cleda. Both of them were named after this good woman. Thanks for letting us know Dale.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 01 May 04 - 11:10 AM

I posted on another thread just yesterday about meeting Jimmy in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Cleda was with him and as I browsed through the material they had for sale, she and I talked quite extensively. What a nice lady! There are a few people in this world who can not be replaced, and Jimmy and Cleda are two. My sympathy goes out to the family. Arkansas has the only diamond mine in the USA, but two of Arkansas' greatest treasures are now to be found only in the hearts of those who knew and loved Jimmy and Cleda.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 01 May 04 - 11:34 AM

Cleda was an exceptional person. Though Jimmy often brought her on stage, she was content with remaining in the background while Jimmy was very comfortable being the focus of public attention. Particularly in later years she almost always accompanied Jimmy on stage and not only helped remember the words to songs but also had a phenominal memory of names. She was a gracious hostess and although the quiet half of the team, she was by no means a secondary partner.

While the Driftwood legacy in Stone County and Arkansas is of huge dimensions they were not founders or co-founders of the Arkansas Folk Festival as stated in the obituary. The festival was one year old before the Driftwoods assistance was sought to provide musical entertainment. It is certainly correct to say that the Driftwoods had a tremendous influence on the musical aspect of the Festival for many years and even to this day. The Driftwood's presence at the festival and their promotion of the festival helped to establish it as one of the premier folk festivals in the country in the early years and this was done mostly with local performers rather than booking outside professional acts. It did not hurt that the festival was visited by professional performers who came of their own volition and performed under the same conditions a the local folk.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Cleda Driftwood
From: harpgirl
Date: 01 May 04 - 12:29 PM

I admired Cleda a great deal. It was a wonder to see her dressed in her native american finery and all her beautiful turquoise jewelry. Once, on a trip to Mountain View, my friend Larry Doyle and I stopped at the Driftwood home to give Cleda some of my home-baked banana bread. She was surprised when she opened the door but graciously accepted it from two strange fans! I always wondered if she and Jimmy ate it or tossed it! Godspeed!

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