Mike Craver, Jim Watson, and Tommy Thompson were called by the family to come sing at Sara Carter's funeral in 1979.  In the fall of 2002, fan Tim Goodall wrote to this Web site and asked why we didn't mention it.  The book Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone (The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music) by Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg had just been published.  On the last page, they wrote "A hundred and fifty people cllimbed through the sleet to the hilltop cemetery, where the Red Clay Ramblers sang 'Anchored in Love' over Sara's grave."  Jim Watson and Mike Craver both gathered their memories for us to post for you.

Mike Craver's Journal Entry - Sara Carter's Funeral

January 13, l979 We sang at Sara's funeral this afternoon.  It was snowing -- a cold bitter gloomy day in Hiltons.  The call had come through late the night before, and we gotten up early and made the long drive to the western part of Virginia -- just Tommy, Jim and I. 

People came to the Fold to view the body.  Sara's wrinkled face and hands. What incredible wrinkled hands.  The big barn-like room was full of people.  There were flowers everywhere.  There was wreath in front of us shaped like a guitar.  We sang "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room" at Janette's request.  Then Johnny Cash preached the funeral sermon.  "Sara was a singer," he said, "but she was a minister of God, too -- she reached all kinds of people through the sermons in her songs." 

Then people from the community took their turn, standing up and telling the congregation what Sara and her music had meant to them. "My mama used to fix her hair," one woman began.  But she couldn't finish for the tears.  Many who tried to talk ended up quietly sobbing, their inability to speak being much more eloquent than words.  The Carter's music had always been about deep, strong and heartfelt emotion, the kind of gut-wrenching things sophisticated people wouldn't allow themselves to express. 

Janette lost it toward the end of the service. She just collapsed in her son Dale's arms, wailing and moaning at the loss of her mother, letting her grief come, making no effort to stop its flow.

Then we all made the long snowy journey to the cemetery, walking right beside the famous people from Nashville -- June Carter Cash and her sisters in long sable fur coats and hats, like characters out of Doctor Zhivago.   We had to trample on other people's graves to get to the site.  Was Sara's the "Grave on the Green Hillside"?   What would Sara have thought?  Tommy and Jim and I sang "Anchored in Love," our fingers nearly freezing on the strings. 

Then everyone left and went back to the Fold to partake of the cold cuts, deviled eggs, shelly beans, rolls, cakes and pies that the community had brought in.  In her white angel's robes, they laid her in that big bronze coffin, under the earth, sealed to eternity. 

-- Mike Craver
Jim Watson's memories of the funeral
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August 31, 2003
updated March 1, 2008