Starlite Nightclub Founder Passes

Mary King

Mary King, the founder of Nashville’s oldest continuously operating nightclub, has died at age 91.

Known as “Sis,” Ms. King was the owner and manager of The Starlite Dinner Club. She built it on a former cow pasture in East Nashville and opened it on Christmas Eve, 1952. The nightclub is still going strong, having entertained generations of Nashvillians with its country-dancing format and hearty dinner menus. The Starlite remains at its original location, 3976 Dickerson Pike.

Mary Frances Garner King was a native Nashvillian. She is survived by her sons Roger Keefer and Lonnie Dale Garner and daughter Patricia Garner Frensley. She was preceded in death by her fourth child, son Timothy Joseph King.

Other survivors include six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Ms. King died of complications from Alzheimer’s on Wednesday, May 9. Her Starlite Dinner Club will celebrate its 60th anniversary on Dec. 24, 2012.

A celebration of Mary King’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at the chapel of the Spring Hill Funeral Home, and interment will follow in Spring Hill Cemetery. Visitation hours with the family are on Thursday, 4-8:00 p.m. and on Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Spring Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery are at 5110 Gallatin Pike. Memorial contributions should be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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