Merle Haggard had already been married four times when he married Theresa Ann Lane on September 11, 1993. His first marriage was to Leona Hobbs, and together the couple welcomed four children: Dana, Marty, Kelli, and Noel.
In 1965, Merle famously married country singer Bonnie Owens, who he credited with helping him make his way in country music. The two remained close after they divorced in 1978, and Bonnie even served as the maid of honor when he married his third wife, Leona Williams.
Merle’s fourth marriage was to Debbie Parret in 1985. The two eventually divorced in 1991, and Merle married Theresa two years later. The couple had two children together, daughter Jenessa and son Ben.
Married for a total of 23 years, Merle’s marriage to Theresa was his longest. Theresa sometimes performed on stage with Merle, and developed a great appreciation for the music he created over his career.
When Merle passed away on his 79th birthday on April 6, 2016, Theresa was understandably devastated. One year after his death, Theresa still finds it difficult to accept that her husband is really gone.
“I’m just now picking myself up out of the dirt, and barely,” Theresa said in an emotional interview with Rare Country. “I’m barely walking, cause I lost my everything. He was my world.”
Since Merle passed, Theresa has found it challenging to be able to listen to his music. But she made herself listen to just bits and pieces when she attended the Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard tribute concert in Nashville.
“Tonight’s really hard, but it’ll be good,” she said. “It’s a good hard. It’s a love fest.”
After being married for 23 years, Theresa got the chance to not only know Merle the singer, but Merle the man. She spoke lovingly about the type of person that he was, saying that he was both “a lover” and “a wild one.”
“He was my man,” she said. “He loved to cook beans. He was a very good cook. He was a great father. He was just a really giving man. He had a heart of gold.”
Merle and Theresa’s love for one another shines through in the video below, which shows them singing Johnny and June Carter Cash’s hit duet, “Jackson.” We hope you enjoy it.
We can’t imagine all of the pain that Theresa has been through in the past year. We’ll be keeping her and the rest of Merle’s loved ones in our prayers.