Country music legend Dolly Parton is mourning the loss of her uncle, Bill Owens. On social media, Parton shared a touching eulogy for the man she credits with jumpstarting her career and encouraging her songwriting. In her eulogy, Parton remembers her uncle taking to her first gig, a performance on The Cas Walker Show.
"I've lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens. I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did. I'll start this eulogy by saying I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been there. He was there... there in my young years to encourage me to keep playing my guitar, to keep writing my songs, to keep practicing my singing. And he was there to help build my confidence standing on stage where he was always standing behind me or close beside me with his big ol' red Gretsch guitar," Parton wrote. "He was there to take me around to all of the local shows, got me my first job on the 'Cas Walker Show.' He took me back-&-forth to Nashville through the years, walked up-&-down the streets with me, knocking on doors to get me signed up to labels or publishing companies. "
The "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" singer-songwriter shared that she owes her uncle a great deal for her continued success.
"It's really hard to say or to know for sure what all you owe somebody for your success. But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot," she continued.
Parton shared the full eulogy on her website.
Bill Owens was born in 1935 and wrote at least 800 songs in his lifetime, Parton writes. Together, Parton and her uncle Bill wrote "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," which was the BMI Song of the Year in 1966.
Owens also worked in the Dollywood family show for many years and was instrumental in protecting the natural environment at Dollywood by planting 70,000 trees on the theme park property with his wife, Sandy.
"I bet a lot of our own relatives don't even know all of the great things that Uncle Bill did behind the scenes through his life," Parton wrote. "But the greatest thing he ever did for me was to help me see my dreams come true and for that I will be forever grateful."