Local News

Dave, Frank, Little Richard, and Johnny: Lynchburg lost a host of famous faces in 2020

{Editor’s Note: This article originally published on December 31, 2020 with one glaring omission, Dave Fruehauf. As soon as a reader pointed out the mistake, we immediately updated and republished.}

One might say that 2020 was a year of loss. We lost normalcy and precedented times. Everyone reading this article lost someone dear to them. Here in Lynchburg, we lost three notable names that were icons to the world but friends and neighbors to us.

Captain Dave E. Fruehauf 1937 – 2020

Famous Blackbird Pilot Dave Fruehauf dies at 83 | In October, Lynchburg lost one of its local characters and an aeronautical legend, Dave Fruehauf. Dave and his trusty companion, a rescued Labrador mix named Jack, could be seen most mornings taking their lap around the Lynchburg Square. What many locals did not know, and Dave would never tell you, is that Dave Fruehauf was kind of a big deal. He was one of only a handful of Air Force pilots to ever fly the famed, stealth Blackbird SR-71. Click here to read our editor’s personal essay about him, Saturdays with Dave.

Frank Bobo 1929-2020

Former Master Distiller Frank Bobo dies at the age of 90 | In January, Jack Daniel’s Distillery’s fifth master distiller, Frank Bobo, died at the age of 90. To locals, he would be remembered as “Frog” Bobo, a true southern gentleman, a veteran, Raider fan, and a man with a deep and abiding love for his beloved, Avalee. Frank Bobo oversaw whiskey-making during a time of rapid growth in the Holler. During his tenure, the distillery went from operating just two stills to five. Through it all, Bobo diligently stuck to the Lincoln County Process. He was committed to making the whiskey the, “same way Jack did” despite the ever-growing pressure to produce more of it. He retired in 1989 but his legacy lives on at Jack Daniel even today. In fact, his grandson, Chris Fletcher, took over the reigns of Jack Daniel Master Distiller in October. To read our complete coverage of his death, click here.

Richard Wayne Penniman aka Little Richard 1932-2020

Little Richard dies at the age of 87 | There’s Lynchburg famous and then there’s famous, famous and music legend Richard Wayne Penniman, lovingly known as Little Richard, was both. He lived as one of the founding fathers of rock and roll, R&B legend, Hall of Fame member, contemporary of Elvis, influencer of Prince and the Beatles, and the guy would who offer you a broad smile while buying his milk at Woodard’s in Lynchburg. One things for sure, Little Richard made an impression in a town that sees its fair share of famous faces … but not as a tourist. He was one of our own … as neighbor and friend. Everyone in Lynchburg has a Little Richard story including our editor. She shared it in a personal essay about Little Richard following his death. You can read that essay by clicking here.

John Terrill Majors

Coaching legend Johnny Majors dies at 85 | To sports reporters and ESPN types around the globe he was known as Johnny Majors, the legendary Iowa State, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee Volunteers coach but folks around Lynchburg knew him as John Terrell Majors, son of Coach Shirley and Elizabeth Majors – a former Moore County Raider and part of the origin story of the fierce Moore County Huntland rivalry. On June 3, family members announced that Majors had died at home. In a statement released by the family, John’s wife of 61 years, Mary Lynn Majors said, “It’s with a sad heart that we make this announcement. John passed away this morning. He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River.” To read our complete coverage of his death, click here.•

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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