Dana Haggard, Oldest Daughter of Merle Haggard, Dead at 61
Merle Haggard's oldest daughter, Dana, died on Tuesday (April 10); her half-brother, Ben Haggard, shared the news on social media on Wednesday (April 11). She was 61 years old.
"I know she’s hugging dad's arm again," Ben Haggard, sharing a photo of his sister and their father.. "I’ll miss you sister. RIP."
According to Bakersfield.com, Dana Haggard's family believes she died in her sleep, either on Monday night (April 9) or Tuesday morning. Her sister, Kelli Haggard Patterson, tells the news outlet that Dana's husband, Terry Lemons, left for work on Tuesday morning while she was still sleeping and found her in the same spot later that day.
"It could have been heartache," Ben Haggard says. "We just had the second anniversary [of our father's death], and she was missing the old man. Who knows?"
Dana Haggard was born in 1957, to Merle Haggard and his first wife, Leona Hobbs; however, according to Rolling Stone, on the day she was born, her father, then 19, was in jail for car theft. In fact, Dana Haggard would not get to know her father well until she was older: He went to jail for five years, for trying to break into a diner, when she was just an infant, and after his brushes with the law, he was often on tour.
Dana Haggard was born in Bakersfield, Calif., but, according to her Facebook page, was living in Russellville, Ark., at the time of her death. A musician herself, she was a member of her father's band, the Strangers; she also used to perform with her brother, Marty Haggard, as Marty and Dana Haggard and the Driftwood Band, and sometimes performed with her brother, Noel Haggard.
Dana Haggard died only a few days after the two-year anniversary of her father's death. Merle Haggard died on April 6, 2016 -- his 79th birthday. In addition to Dana, he had five other children: Kelli, Marty and Noel with Leona Hobbs, to whom he was married from 1956 to 1964, and Jenessa and Ben with his fifth wife, Theresa Ann Lane, whom he married in 1993.
In addition to her husband and siblings, Dana Haggard is survived by her four children, Mathew, Kelli, Jarod and Michael; a stepson, Austin; and nine grandchildren. Memorial services for her will be held in both Arkansas and Bakersfield.
Essential Merle Haggard Lyrics