Branson, MO ― Lloyd Hobart Presley, one of the founders of Branson's entertainment industry, passed away at the age of 86 in his home on October 23rd, 2010.
The patriarch of Branson’s musical Presley family, and an original performer of Presleys' Country Jubilee, Lloyd had suffered a gradual decline in health since the passing of his beloved wife, Bessie Mae, in August 2007. In the days preceding his death, as had been true throughout the majority of his life, he was surrounded by several generations of his large and loving family. Always quick with a smile, joke or bit of fishing advice, Lloyd was a friend to all. He will be sorely missed by those who had the great pleasure of knowing him.
Born August 30th, 1924 in Brighton, MO, he was the youngest son of Orville and Mamie Presley; Lloyd grew up hunting and fishing the Sac River country near Brighton. His father was one of the early brush-arbor preachers, and founded one of Missouri’s first Pentecostal Churches. Lloyd’s mother was an avid harmonica player who passed her enjoyment of music to her youngest son. Along with his parents, Lloyd’s childhood was spent with his elder siblings Don, Elva Mae and Elwin. As the family legend goes, Lloyd taught himself to play music on a guitar his brother Don had traded for a fine hound dog.
Lloyd left school in the eighth grade to help operate a small general store his father had started. However, he and Elwin still found time to perform at church events, pie socials and ice-cream suppers around southwestern Missouri. His life would change for the better in the summer of 1942 when he happened to visit Doling Park in Springfield, MO. At the bumper-car rides, he chanced to spy his future wife, Bessie Mae Garrison. The attraction was near instantaneous, and the couple was married on November 4, 1942. Lloyd and Bessie Mae were inseparable for almost 65 years of marriage, living in Springfield with their four children for the first 25 years.
In 1967, Lloyd and Bessie Mae moved to Branson. In that year, along with their children, Deanna, Gary, Janice, Steve, Deanna’s husband David Drennon and Gary’s wife Pat, the family opened Mountain Music Theater (now Presleys’ Country Jubilee) on Branson’s Highway 76. Theirs was the first music theater on what was then a lonesome stretch of asphalt, a far cry from the entertainment phenomenon Branson is today. The entire family continued to work numerous outside jobs in the early years. Lloyd’s passion and expertise for fishing allowed him a second job as a fishing guide spending many long days on his beloved Branson area lakes. Though he was often exhausted from days on the lake and nights in the theater, his joyful demeanor seemed to indicate he would have had it no other way. This was especially true when the bass were biting and the theater seats were packed.
Never without a sense of humor, Lloyd often claimed that if the theater had not been a success the family would have used the original building to store fishing boats. This would not come to pass, as the family business grew to be one of the premier entertainment venues in Branson. Lloyd, his love for performing never waning over the years, remained on stage with his stand-up bass fiddle until age 85. He loved to see the joy on the faces of the audience, and strummed that old bass for the crowds until he retired from stage last December after 75 years of playing music.
On June 30, 2007 Lloyd Presley and his family celebrated their 40th anniversary of live performances in Branson. They were honored by Missouri’s Governor Matt Blunt, the State Legislature, City of Branson, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Taney County Commissioners for their outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry in Branson. In addition, Lloyd was also the recipient of the Branson Lakes/Area Pioneer Award; he was an early inductee into the Ozarks Music Hall of Fame.
Lloyd was preceded in death by his wife Bessie Mae Presley, a grandson, Michael Drennon, his parents, in-laws, and his brothers and sister. He is survived by his four children, Deanna Drennon and her husband David , Gary and his wife Pat, Janice Sutherland, Steve and his wife Raeanne all of Branson. He leaves behind grandchildren Mindee and James Prosser, Gina Drennon, Scott and Malinda Presley, Greg Presley, Eric and Kelli Presley, Tina Sutherland, Todd Sutherland, Nick and Rhianna Presley, John and Ambrus Presley and Sarah Presley. He was blessed with fifteen great grandchildren.
All services for Lloyd Presley will be held at the Tri-Lakes Center located at 2527 State Hwy. 248, Branson, MO. Funeral service is at 2:00 pm, Wednesday, October 27th. Visitation will be from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm, Tuesday, October 26th. Burial follows at Ozark’s Memorial Park Cemetery in Branson. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested memorials be made to:
Skaggs Medical Center Foundation
In Memory of Lloyd Presley
P.O. Box 650
Branson, MO 65615