HED:Entertainer Buddy Bain dies at 74
By Phyllis Harper
Hubert E. "Buddy" Bain, one of Mississippi's most beloved entertainers, died at 7:45 a.m. Sunday at North Mississippi Medical Center.
He and his wife, Kay, had hosted the "Mornin' Show" on WTVA-TV in Tupelo for almost two decades.
"It is a personal loss for Gayle and me, a loss for thousands and thousands of people in North Mississippi who hear their show every morning," Sen. Roger Wicker said while he and his wife were at the Bain home Sunday afternoon.
Wicker was one of many public officials and private citizens who reacted to news of Bain's death with similar accolades.
"They have been our goodwill ambassadors to the world," Wicker said. "And I say 'they,' because you can't think of Buddy without thinking Buddy and Kay, and it's hard to call him anything other than Buddy. When I think of them, I think of the Golden Rule, of the good Samaritan, of how much they've done for so many."
The show will go on, according to Mark Ledbetter, vice president and general manager of WTVA, Inc., as he talked about tribute programs planned for today, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in the 6 a.m. slot.
Funeral services will be Wednesday at 2 p.m. at West Jackson Street Baptist Church with Bro. Bert Harper and Bro. Tommy Vinson officiating. Burial will be in Lee Memorial Park with Lee Memorial Funeral Home in charge.
"Buddy was the epitome of respect for all mankind. He always made the least or the greatest feel wonderful," Rep. Steve Holland said. "His legacy of love, laughter and goodwill will never let him die in the hearts and lives of all those who knew and loved Buddy and Kay."
Buddy's professional career began in 1945 on WJDX Radio in Jackson. He soon moved to Knoxville, Tenn., where he worked with Grant Turner on WBIR. By 1948, he was a member of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, and later worked as straight man and emcee for Rod Brasfield. After a stint at a Memphis radio station, he returned to his hometown of Corinth to live until the Bains moved to Tupelo as hosts of the "Mornin' Show."
As a duo, the Bains appeared on Hee Haw, the Grand Old Opry, at two world fairs and at many other places around the country. Though they identified themselves as country musicians, the Bains performed a variety of styles.
Their friends included such names as Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Tammy Wynette, who appeared on their show before she became famous, and Johnny Cash, who told of his experiences with Buddy in his book "Man in Black."
More important to them than professional honors was the daily living among friends and neighbors and their contributions to to churches, schools, civic groups and individuals, CDF President Harry Martin said of the two people he called "my dear friends."
"Buddy and Kay have been the best all-round ambassadors of goodwill we've had in North Mississippi in 30 years," Martin said.
"Their honesty, integrity and Christian character is unmatched. They have influenced children, senior citizens, people of all ages, and their impact has been great."
In 1977, citing his charity and civic work, the Junior Auxiliary of Corinth honored Buddy as its "Outstanding Citizen of the Year."
In 1993, the City of Tupelo honored the Bains with Buddy and Kay Appreciation Day and a proclamation by Mayor Jack Marshall saying, "They have given so much to so many, to people of all ages, in their own church and other churches, in schools, in nursing homes, and in coutless civic and charitable causes."
Marshall said Sunday that he, along with so many others, had lost a friend.
"Buddy had a real love and concern for all people everywhere," Marshall said. "We have indeed lost one of our best ambassadors, and he surely will be missed."
Ledbetter called Buddy "a true pro." Today and Tuesday, the Mornin' Show will include video tapes of Buddy and Kay and others, with Ledbetter providing intros and wraps. Wednesday morning will be an hour-long commercial-free tribute.
Ledbetter said that Buddy Bain lived by the professional maxim that the show must go on.
"We're honoring Buddy and his wishes, his professionalism in these shows. The show must go on - and it will."
In addition to Kay, survivors include a daughter, Maria Perigan and her husband, Tim, of Baldwyn; a son, Tony Bain and his wife, Tracy, of Columbus; four grandchildren, Brandy Bain, Taylor Bain, Clint Haley and Erin Haley.
Pallbearers will be Mark Ledbetter, Terry Smith, Frank Spain, Rob Gardner, Paul Cunningham, Charlie McDaniel, Eddie Bond, and Travis Little.
Memorials may be made to the Cancer Society, P.O. Box 1134, Tupelo, MS 38801, the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 16808, Jackson, MS 39236, or the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 396, Verona, MS 38879.