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A stunning death has taken the life of a well-known musician and folk singer who lived near Simpsonville.
Betty Thom, one of the original founding members of the folk/bluegrass group, The Cumberlands, passed away in her sleep, said her husband of 55 years, Harold Thom.
“She was the most wonderful, loving, compassionate, kind, brilliant lady,” he said. “She was one in a billion.”
Thom described his wife as being full of life and health and hardly ever sick in her life., and her abrupt passing left him in an emotional shambles. Betty Thom was 75.
“There was just no sign that anything was wrong,” he said. “We had dinner last night, [Sunday night] and we sat down to watch a little TV, and she reclined back in her chair and dozed off and just never woke up.”
Betty and Harold Thom’s lives had been intertwined in a love story that spanned six decades, full of adventure, love, laughter, and in their later years, contentment, both with each other and the home they had built on Fields Lane just east of Simpsonville, where they had lived for the past 15 years.
“She always loved horses, and when we moved to Kentucky in 1969 because of our music, horses were just the icing on the cake,” he said.
Thom said people will remember his wife, who was born in Shreveport, La., for many things, especially her talent on stage, which consisted of singing and playing the banjo. The Cumberlands, which the couple created in 1963, so named because of their Appalachian music, toured the country for many years, had TV show in the 1970s, and recorded 13 albums over the years.
Thom said people read more about his wife and see historic photos at www.thecumberlands.net.
But he said it was the move to Simpsonville, where she realized the owning those horses, that thrilled Betty Thom.
“Horses were the love of her life,” he said. “Betty spent most of her growing up years on her uncle’s ranch in east Texas, and when we moved here [Simpsonville] and started Shireno Valley Farm, and started boarding horses, well, she just loved it. She really loved animals, especially horses.”
The couple’s daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, as well as their grandchildren, all share that love of horses and are very talented riders as well, Thom said.
Betty Thom was more than just a talented performer, devoted mother and avid horsewoman, he said, adding that recently, she had discovered another creative outlet of expression.
“For the past five years, she has devoted much time to painting and sketching peoples’ pets,” he said.
“She just excelled at everything she did, and she had so many wonderful talents,” he said. “And on top of all that, she was the most loving, compassionate wonderful person. Losing her has left such a void in my life.”