Don Warden, a member of Porter Wagoner‘s Wagonmasters and longtime manager and confidante of Dolly Parton, passed away March 12.
The Mountain Grove, Missouri native was born March 27, 1929 to parents Rev. Charlie and Eva Jane Warden. He found his lifelong passion for music early following a two-year stint in the Army as an intelligence officer, and was soon playing steel guitar on the Ozark Jubilee and the Louisiana Hayride shows. Warden played with Red Sovine, The Wilburn Brothers, and Porter Wagoner on the “Porter Wagoner Show,” and the first standup Sho-Bud steel guitar was created especially for him by Shot Jackson Custom.
Warden eventually segued to the business side of the industry and spent 43 years working as Dolly Parton’s road manager. Of her longtime manager and friend Parton said: “I’ve known and loved Don Warden since I joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. He was like a father, a brother, a partner and one of my best friends. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing today. Certainly a huge piece of my life is gone. Rest in peace Don and know for sure that I will always love you.”
Warden was a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner, and a lifelong member of the Church of God. He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2008.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lois Ann Bybee Warden, son Charlie, grandchildren Courtney Warden Barlar and Chase Warden, and a sister Reba Brown of Oklahoma City.
Visitation will be held on March 16 from 1-2 p.m. at Christ Church with the funeral service to follow at 2 p.m. Interment will take place at Christ Church Memorial Gardens.
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