Virginia “Ginny” Patterson Hensley would be 80 years old this September 8. “Who is that?” you’re no doubt asking. It’s Patsy Cline, of course, and her home in Winchester, Virginia – the only tourist site in the country dedicated to the iconic singer – is now a museum open for touring and paying respects.
In Patsy’s Footsteps: Winchester
The Patsy Cline Historic House (608 S. Kent Street) opened to the public this year. She resided in the modest home with her mother and first husband from 1948 to 1953 and returned intermittently until 1957.
John Handley High School (425 Handley Blvd.) is where Patsy struggled to earn an education. She dropped out at age 16 to help support her family. Working the soda fountain at Gaunt’s Drugstore (S. Loudoun St. & Gerrard St.) was one of Patsy’s jobs during her teenage years.
WNC-92.5 FM Studio (520 N. Pleasant Valley Road) is where Patsy made her very first radio appearance.
The home you’ll see (but can’t tour) at 720 S. Kent Street is the one in which Patsy married Charles Allen Dick. You can also see the Winchester Star at 2 N. Kent Street, which is where Charles worked as a linotype operator.
Patsy’s parents, Samuel Lawrence Hensley and Hilda Virginia Patterson Hensley, are interred at National Cemetery (401 National Avenue). Shenandoah Memorial Park (1270 Front Royal Pike) is where you’ll find Patsy’s final resting place. Folks leave pennies on her headstone for good luck.
A Little About Patsy
Ginny took the stage name Patsy when a radio personality gave her a chance to tour regionally with his band, Melody Boys and Girls. When she married Gerald E. Cline in 1953, she became Patsy Cline.
Patsy’s first 45 single, released in 1954, was not successful, but in 1955 she was able to take the stage with Jimmy Dean on a 30-minute music variety television program in the Washington DC area. The spotlight moment launched her onto Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in 1957 where she took the prize with “Walkin’ After Midnight”. The beginning of her musical career met the end of her marriage.
In September 1957 Patsy married Charles Allen Dick. The birth of their first child put her career on hold for a time, but in 1959 the family moved to Nashville. In 1960 Patsy became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry and in 1961 “I Fall to Pieces” topped the country charts and landed at number 12 on the pop charts.
An automobile accident critically injured Patsy in June 1961, but she made it back into the studio by August to record “Crazy” – a song written by Willie Nelson that would rise to number two on the country charts and number nine on the pop charts. In December, “She’s Got You” was recorded and would become her second number-one country hit.
Over Patsy’s career she was seen performing with Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and George Jones. She landed appearances on American Bandstand and played Carnegie Hall. By 1963 she had more than 100 recordings under her belt.
March 5, 1963 was Patsy’s last day as the plane she was aboard crashed in Tennessee. Her remains were buried in Winchester.
Like many performers lost too soon, Patsy’s notoriety came after her death:
- Country Music Hall of Fame, 1973 – first solo female elected
- Virginia Folk Music Association’s Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, 1981
- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, 1995
- Grammy Hall of Fame, 1992 for “Crazy” and 2001 for “I Fall to Pieces”
- United States Commemorative Stamp, 1993
- Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1999
- “Crazy” is the number one jukebox hit of all time.
For more information or to pick up a map of the Winchester area, visit the Winchester-Frederick County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1400 S. Pleasant Valley Drive.
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