Tommy JarrellMarch 06, 2012
Tommy JarrellPhoto by David Holt www.davidholt.com (Old-time Fiddle, Banjo)Date of Birth: March 1, 1901Place of Birth: Fisher Peak (Surry County), North CarolinaMarried: Nina Frances Lowe (d. February 13, 1967) — December 27, 1923Children: Ardena "Dena" (b. February 27, 1925); Clarence "Wayne" (b. February 8, 1927; Benjamin Franklin "B.F." (b. September 19, 1933)Date of Death: January 8, 1985Place of Death: Toast, North CarolinaTommy proposed to Nina Frances Lowe while they were hoeing a corn patch one day: "Nina, we'll get married if you want to. But I'll tell you right now — I make whiskey, I play poker, and I make music, and I don't know whether I'll ever quit that or not. But if you think we can get along now, we'll get married — and if you don't think we can, right now is the time to say something." "Well, I believe we'd get along all right," was her reply and they were married in Hillsville, Virginia at the Carroll County courthouse (the same one notoriously shot up by the Allen clan a few years earlier) on December 27, 1923.The family settled in the community of Toast, North Carolina, near Mt. Airy, where they raised three children and Tommy worked 41 years for the North Carolina Department of Transportation before retiring in 1966. Tommy remained a popular musician and by 1975 had recorded seven albums. He played at festivals around the country including at the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1982 was awarded a National Heritage Fellow Award, the highest honor the government bestows upon an artist.