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UPDATE: Funeral Service Held for 'Mountain Santa Claus'

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 5/15/15
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds shows up Thursday to say goodbye to a friend and the man they called "Santa Claus."

An entire community showed up for the funeral of Marlow Tackett at the University of Pikeville.

Tackett was known as the "Mountain Santa Claus" because of his efforts to buy Christmas presents for underprivileged children in the county.

"There will never be another Santa Claus like Marlow Tackett, he made sure every under privileged child had a good Christmas," said friend Cam Colley.

Tackett died over the weekend after a year-long cancer.

Friends and family shared stories of Tackett's love for the people of Pike County. Former members of Tackett's band played and sang songs that Tackett had written.

He was 70 years old.



UPDATE 5/14/14
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Friends, family, and members of the community are saying their goodbyes to the man known as the "Mountain Santa Claus.”

Marlow Tackett died Saturday at the age of 70 in Elizabethton, Tennessee, where he was living. Tackett had been battling cancer for the past year. Tackett was originally from Dorton, in Pike County, Kentucky

Tackett's visitation was Tuesday at Pilgrim's Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church.

For 35 years, Tackett organized "Marlow Tackett's Christmas for the Needy," which provided toys, clothes, furniture and other necessities to thousands of children in the area.

"I've had calls from Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Michigan," said son David Tackett. "I mean daddy touched people all over the United States."

Everywhere they went David Tackett said someone knew his dad.

"He'll be missed by those in need," said Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford. "He'll be remembered by the thousands he helped."

Family members and friends said they are holding tight to their memories.

"He was such a loving father," said daughter Alissha Isaacs. "He was a loving grandfather and such a great friend."

The visitation for Tackett will continue Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Pilgrim Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church.

His funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at the old University of Pikeville gymnasium.



UPDATE 5/12/14 @ 6:33 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Country musicl legend and eastern Kentucky native Marlow Tackett has passed away. The singer/songwriter died at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer.

WSAZ.com caught up with Tackett's longtime friend, Wayne T. Rutherford, to talk about the country music star's impact on Pike County and all of Central Appalachia.

"He was a friend, yes," Rutherford said, "but he was more than that."

Rutherford says he and Tackett go way back. The Pike County Judge-Executive says he even helped the musician find a place to perform, known as "Marlow's Country Palace." It became one of the most popular spots in all of eastern Kentucky, and even attracted some of the biggest names in country music to the area.

"Marlow had the most popular club in this part of the country, no doubt about it," Rutherford said, "and they packed it every weekend."

Tackett's musical talent quickly got noticed. He was signed by RCA and started touring the country, and climbing the music charts. But Rutherford says Tackett became very homesick, and he believes that's what kept the singer from really making it big.

"Marlow loved his horses, his dog and his people more than he was dedicated to staying on the road and he wanted to go back to them, or he would have been a national star," Rutherford said.

While Tackett had an amazing musical talent, friends and family say it was his compassion for others that really made him a star. For more than three decades, Tackett helped families with his "Christmas for the Needy" event, which earned him the nickname "the Mountain Santa Claus."

"Marlow had a good life," Rutherford said. "The lord had blessed him with talent, and he used that talent in a way to help people, and somebody like that will certainly be missed as time goes on."



ORIGINAL STORY 5/12/14
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The man who is known as the "Mountain Santa Claus" to thousands of people in eastern Kentucky has passed away.

Marlow Tackett died Saturday at the age of 70 in Elizabethton, Tennessee, where he was living. Tackett had been battling cancer for the past year. Tackett was originally from Dorton, in Pike County, Kentucky.

For 35 years, Tackett organized "Marlow Tackett's Christmas for the Needy," which provided toys, clothes, furniture and other necessities to thousands of children in the area.

Family and friends say Tackett never met a stranger, and would do anything he could to help anybody.

"From the time he was a real young boy he was like that," said Tackett's relative Hester Baker. "He never looked at one person without love. He loved everybody."

"I played music on everything. Everything was a guitar to me. I'd beat old barb-wired fences and get the sound and sing with them," Tackett said in 2013.

Tackett had always said he hoped his Christmas give-away would last as an inspiration to others. "I want them to look with their heart and not only their eyes. I hope that some of those people watching this tonight would share this story with somebody else," he said.

Funeral services are set for Thursday at Pilgrim's Prayer Old Regular Baptist Church, followed by burial at Tackett Cemetery at Dorton.


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