Jimmy Fortune and Earl Hamner, Jr statues unveiled in Nelson County, VA


Statues of Two Famous Nelsonians presented to the Oakland Museum
Life-size bronze statues of Earl Hamner Jr., creator of “The Waltons,” and Jimmy Fortune, formerly of the Statler Brothers, were unveiled at a ceremony at the Nelson County Historical Society’s Oakland Museum on Saturday, July 8, at 11 a.m.
Kami Cotler, who played the youngest Walton, Elizabeth, and Michael McGreevey, an actor and writer on the show and a co-producer of a documentary on Hamner, spoke at the event.
Cotler, a prominent cast member of “The Homecoming” and “The Waltons” beginning at age 6, and who lived in Nelson and taught in the school system, arranged for other cast members to produce a video expressing their memories of Hamner. It was shown at the unveiling. Hamner died in 2016 and July 10 marked his 100th birthday.
Fortune and members of his family were present for the unveiling. Fortune spoke about his relationship with Hamner.
The museum also premiered exhibits on Hamner and “Rhythms Past and Present,” honoring Fortune and other prominent local musicians with photos, biographies and videos of interviews and performances. The musical heritage exhibit is partially funded by a grant from Bama Works, a charitable foundation of the Dave Matthews Band.
Lyndon Cook, a retired college professor and longtime fan of Fortune’s, commissioned the statues by Stan Watts, a noted artist and sculptor. One of Watts’ most famous pieces is entitled, “To Lift a Nation,” and is taken from the famous photo of New York City firefighters raising a flag over the collapsed World Trade Center site. Funding for the statue of Hamner was donated by the Chris and Andrea Lee family, and Steve and Annie Zolman donated the statue of Fortune.
When Cook approached Fortune to propose the statue, Fortune said he would allow it if Cook would also commission a statue of Hamner, with whom he became close after being asked to appear in and sing in a video documentary on Hamner’s life called “Storyteller.” Behind the scenes footage of Fortune singing “Virginia Dreams” and “How Great Thou Art” at the old Hamner home and Schuyler Baptist Church will be shown in the museum exhibit, as will a video of Michael Learned and Hamner talking about “The Waltons.”
To see the statues in person go to the Nelson County’s Historical Society’s Oakland Museum at 5365 Thomas Nelson Hwy Arrington, VA 22922. For more information click here.

25 Comments to Jimmy Fortune and Earl Hamner, Jr statues unveiled in Nelson County, VA

  1. Glenola Maxwell says:

    When will you perform Jim Columbia TN again? By the time i find it about a show, it is sold out. Would love to attend.

  2. Sharon Garrison says:

    Looking forward to seeing you in Huntsville,TX on April 12th. We will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary alone with the wildflowers of Texas. We are big fans watch you-tube shows often. am hoping to hear our favorite song Your My Only One, dance to that every time we hear it. SEE YOU SOON. Can’t wait!!

  3. Joan McLean says:

    Jimmy—-I was so fortunate to see you in Shipshewana last June. You have an amazing voice and I have been listening to you since you first joined the Statlers. My husband passed in March and I often listen to your music and am very blessed by it. You always give all the praise to God and that is so wonderful as He is the one who has gifted you. I also listen to the Waltons programe most every day from Monday to Friday. Blessings to you always and to Nina too. Hoping to see you in Shipshewana in March of 2024. Joan McLean. My home is in Ontario. Congrats to the wonderful honor placed upon you at the Oakland Museum….You deserve it so much.

  4. Debra starling says:

    Please let me know when u coming to live
    At the rudy selma nc

  5. Shirley R Lyons says:

    Jimmy I should have figures you knew Earl Hamner Jr. My favorite show as it reminded me of my father’s family and him being the oldest of seven. You have the same “humbleness” about you, having met you backstage twice. Look forward to seeing you soon and maybe you can talk the rest of the Statler Brothers into “one more concert” for all of us fans.
    Shirley Lyons
    Surprise, Arizona

  6. Sally E Goff says:

    A well deserved tribute to you. Love your music.

  7. Judi Morgan says:

    Jimmy, a well deserved honor! You are so gifted!
    Your music blesses and makes me happy even though
    tears often flow when I listen to you.

  8. Joyce Donaldson says:

    Congratulations JIMMY A great honor for a Spirit filled man of God. I’ve enjoyed your music for a long long time. I still listen to your cd. Keep blessing all of us with your singing.

  9. Heather Holden says:

    Well done my man. You deserve the recognition. A great statue and a huge honour for you and the family. We’ll done again.

  10. Jean-frances says:

    Congratulations?! And Thanks for singing. Especially ‘It is well’i heard it when you sang it on tv after describing how your mother sang it when you went through a rough period in you life. It sounded so beautiful
    i Made sure I learned it. Love all the songs you guys sing. Carry on.

  11. George and Carol Younis says:

    Congratulation no one deserve this more than you can’t wait to see you
    and the Brothers again next year in Shipshewana.

  12. Bob Lepischak says:

    I am the self proclaimed …ASOLUTELY… biggest Canadian fan of the Statler Brothers and Jimmy Fortune…I have been checking on the “Fortune Performance Schedule” hoping for a mid-Canada show ..or northern state event that we would be able to attend … Bob Lepischak Neepawa Manitoba Canada 🇨🇦

  13. Lois Noel says:

    So happy for you! I have been a fan since you were first with the Statlers and still a big fan. Was thrilled to talk with you at the Newberry SC Oprey house in
    2021. Keep on singing!!

  14. Jo bradly says:

    A well deserved honor! Statue is awesome, however Jimmy is much more handsome. Come back to Texas!

  15. Linda Brown says:

    Awesome singer!

  16. Very well deserved as, your voice in such an instrument & you deserve great things! Always love d the Statlers & your voice is wonderful!!

  17. Laura Marcy Bearden says:

    Congratulations on a well deserved statue ! You are still
    My best singer! Keep up the good work! I’m listening!

  18. Bruce E. Cook says:

    Jimmy, Congratulations on the honor bestowed on you by Nelson County. You deserve it & more. I will always be grateful for the song you wrote & sang “More than a Name on a Wall”

    Bruce E. Cook

  19. Janice Walker says:

    Congratulations on this great honor. You are an awesome entertainer. I listen to your cds while I sew, which is a lot!
    May God continue to bless you and your family and your work.

    Janice Walker

  20. Etta Walker says:

    Jimmy Fortune, Congratulations on a well deserved honor. My husband and I are thankful for your love of entertaining people and in doing so sharing your love for God and being His witness.

    Sincerely your fans

  21. Cam Lind says:

    That is an awesome honor, congratulations.

    • Karen Stonebraker says:

      Congrats!! It’s great that you and your family were honored in such a deserving manner. Enjoy it to the fullest. Keep up the awesome singing and guitar playing Jimmy. The Oakridge boys are coming to the U.P. of Michigan on December 8th and 9th. I hope you guys can make it one of these days.

      I’ve seen every episode of the Waltons at least 3 times and the pilot Christmas movie every year. I’m so happy for his family.

  22. Robert Brackett says:

    Congratulations ..
    We sure do miss getting to see you.. I hope you will find an opportunity to come to upstate New York sometime..

    Bob & Paula Brackett

  23. Dan Dietz says:

    Many congratulations Jimmy! I am still a big fan of you and your music. I will always remember you with the Statlers, y’all were GREAT!

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