Lily Fern Weatherford announces May 2013 Retirement
In a statement posted on Singing News this afternoon, Lily Fern Weatherford announced that her sixty-five-year run with the Weatherfords will come to a close with her retirement this spring:
After much prayer and thought, my years of traveling with the Weatherfords will be coming to a close at the end of May, 2013. I turned 84 this past November, and have just celebrated my 70th year in full time ministry. I will be making our annual Florida tour that will last through February as well as one more tour to California and once that is completed at the end of May, I will be retiring.
In a parting word of warning to churches and groups alike, her announcement was surprisingly frank as to the economic challenges of staying on the road:
Over the past several years, there have been so many changes in the economy and and state of the country that it has become financially unfeasible for me to continue on in the same manner of ministry. Churches and pastors have changed their way of ministry and are not supporting the Southern Gospel groups as they have in the past. The Weatherfords have always depended on the church and free will love offerings to keep us going. Fuel prices are outrageous as well as other costs of keeping on the road. All these things have caused me to come to this decision.
Her son Steve intends to continue the Weatherfords’ musical legacy, and will announce what that will look like soon.
Many if not most Weatherfords fans consider their golden era to be the vocal lineup of Earl and Lily Weatherford on baritone and alto, Glen Payne on lead, and Armond Morales on bass. Here is a video from that era, showing Lily in her prime: