Lincoln County has lost its favorite outlaw.
Butch Jenkins, a local musician dubbed â€œThe Lincoln County Outlawâ€ by bluegrass legend Raymond Fairchild, died July 7 of a massive heart attack.
He left behind his wife, Tina; daughter, Jessica; son, James and a cavalcade of friends. His death was sudden and unexpected.
â€œHe had no major health problems,â€ said Jenkins. â€œHe came in Thursday just like his normal, bouncy self.â€
The couple was packing for a week-long trip to Maggie Valley, home of Fairchildâ€™s Opry House.
Butch normally played guitar with Fairchild every weekend and he was ready for a week off from driving for Concrete Supply and devoted to performing.
When Tina heard her glass table shatter, she knew something was wrong. She ran into the room to find Butch lying on the floor.
â€œI just started screaming,â€ she said.
Even though she is an emergency medical technician, she couldnâ€™t clear her head to take action.
â€œAll my training just went somewhere,â€ she said.
Instead, her 20-year-old daughter who had just completed her EMT training exam, took over the situation.
Unfortunately there was little to be done.
News of Jenkinsâ€™ death spread quickly throughout the community. He had legions of friends, many of whom rallied around his family in the wake of his death.
â€œThe only thing that gets me through the day is thinking about (Butchâ€™s) crazy sense of humor and his friends,â€ Tina said. â€œThey have all just circled.â€
Butchâ€™s Maggie Valley friends have also been supportive. Fairchild still keeps in touch with Tina and James, the coupleâ€™s son, recently played at the opry house his father loved so much.
For months prior to his death, Butch had encouraged James to take the stage. Due to his work schedule, however, James could never make it.
When he did finally step out into the lights of the opry house, James told the crowd that his father used to play guitar in Fairchildâ€™s band.
The song James chose to sing was â€œRaymondâ€™s Opry House,â€ which Butch had written. It was that song, that cemented his budding friendship with Fairchild.
James told the opry house audience â€œIâ€™m going to sing that tonight, or at least Iâ€™m going to try.â€
â€œThere was not a dry eye in that house,â€ Tina said. â€œIt was just remarkable.â€
Now, James is following in his fatherâ€™s footsteps â€“ Fairchild believes the guitar-picking 18-year-old has a future in music.
Tina is proud of her son, who reminds her a lot of Butch. She takes comfort in her family and the fact â€œButch said that if he died tomorrow, he would die a happy man. He had done just about everything he wanted to do.â€
Even so, her family and friends will miss their outlaw.
â€œI wish everybody could be as lucky as I was because they broke the mold when they made him,â€ she said. â€œThereâ€™ll never be another Butch Jenkins.â€
To buy Butch Jenkinsâ€™ compact disc â€œIn the Hills of North Carolinaâ€ call Tina Jenkins at (704) 732-9929.
by Sarah Grano