Famous Folk from Howell County
Porter Wagoner was born in West Plains, Missouri on August 12, 1927. He was a popular American country music singer known for his flashy Nudie and Manuel suits and blond pompadour. He introduced a young Dolly Parton on his long-running television show, and they were a well-known duet team throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. Wagoner charted 81 singles and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Wagoner's first band, The Blue Ridge Boys, performed on radio station KWPM-AM from a butcher shop in West Plains, where Wagoner cut meat. His big break came in 1951, when he was hired by "Si" Siman as a performer on KWTO-AM in Springfield, Missouri. This led to a contract with RCA Records.
With lagging sales, Wagoner and his trio played schoolhouses for the gate proceeds; but in 1953, his song "Trademark" became a hit for Carl Smith, followed by a few hits of his own on RCA. He was a featured performer on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri, and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1957.
His syndicated television program, The Porter Wagoner Show, aired from 1960 to 1981. There were 686 30-minute episodes taped; the first 104 in black and white and the remainder in color. At its peak, it was featured in over 100 markets, with an average viewership of over three million.
Until his illness and death, Wagoner appeared regularly on the Grand Ole Opry and toured actively. On October 19, 2007, his publicist Darlene Bieber announced that the singer had been hospitalized and was in very serious condition. WSMV-TV reported that he was admitted earlier that week. Bieber gave no further information but said that the country star was asking for prayers from his family and fans. On October 21, his publicist confirmed that Wagoner had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
On October 26, Wagoner was released into hospice care. He died two days later in Nashville. Wagoner's funeral was held on November 1, 2007 at the Grand Ole Opry House followed by interment at Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Nashville. His long-time duet partner and friend, now the legendary Dolly Parton, performed a concert at her Tennessee theme park Dollywood in his honor after his death.  Legacy
In West Plains, Porter Wagoner Boulevard is named in his honor. Originally built as a bypass, businesses sprang up on it in the 1970s, making it the major north-south thoroughfare. The northern terminus is at the intersection with Missouri Route 14. The road is labeled as Business Route US 63 from this interchange until it reaches Broadway Street, where Business Route US 63 turns east to follow Broadway. Porter Wagoner Boulevard then continues for three blocks to its southern terminus at Main Street.