Billy Earl Owens

Billy Earl Owens, who is the songwriting uncle of Dolly Parton, died on Thursday, his niece tweeted.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Billy Earl Owens, the songwriting uncle of Dolly Parton, died on Thursday, his niece tweeted.

"I've lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens. I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did," Parton said.

Parton took to Twitter and posted a eulogy about the man who took her first job on the "Cas Walker Show." She said that Owens took her to Nashville throughout the years and knocking on doors.

"It's really hard to say or to know for sure Parton what all you owe somebody for your success. But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot," Parton said.

His love of music led Owens to record songs with artists such as Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, and Kris Kristofferson.

Owens was also a known environmentalist. He worked with Dollywood, The American Chestnut Foundation, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and The American Eagle Foundation "to bring back the endangered chestnut tree to the Great Smoky Mountain area."

"That was his passion. He also championed the cause of protecting the natural environment at Dollywood in 1986. During that time, he took it upon himself, with his wife Sandy, to plant 70,000 trees on the Park property," Parton said.

To read the full eulogy from Parton, click here

 

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