Darrell Bumgardner remembered as a favorite in Gaston’s music scene


To put food on the table, the late Darrell Bumgardner spent many years repairing typewriters for schools in Gaston County.

But while it may have been his job, it certainly wasn’t his calling.

This calling was to put a song in the heart and a smile on the face of the many people who loved his particular brand of country music.

Bumgardner, who died Dec. 3 at the age of 86, has performed throughout the region in a career that spanned more than five decades and saw him rub shoulders with many stars along the way.

He was perhaps best known over the past decade for performing with his band, The Sonshyne Boyz, at Jackson’s Cafeteria.

Born in Gaston County, Bumgardner was the son of the late Raymond Floyd Bumgardner Sr. and Lillie Mae Caldwell Bumgardner.

Bumgardner grew up in the Art Cloth community, a textile mill village north of Lowell. He detailed his life in a self-published 2020 memoir titled “A Place Called Art Cloth, Growing Up On a North Carolina Mill Hill”.

“Whether you are young or old, reading this book will help you rediscover what life was like, not only in Art Cloth, but in the textile villages of North and South Carolina. “ he said The Gazette This year.

Certainly the memories capture the warmth of a time and place where children spent most of their days outdoors – playing football and baseball, fishing, building forts or swimming in the clear, cold waters. of the South Fork River.

It also evokes memories of a time when a child was raised not only by his parents, but by all the adults in the village.

“Everyone knew each other,” Bumgardner said. “Everyone knew everyone’s family. People were really neighbors back then. They didn’t just live next to each other, they were neighbors.”

From the start of his many years as a musician, Bumgardner, who had joined the Navy after high school, recalls: “When I was stationed in Hawaii in 1955, I bought my first instrument, a Martin mandolin, and I drove all the guys crazy trying to learn how to play. “

Among the local musicians Bumgardner associated with early in his career were Royce Lazenby, Darrell Garver, Everett Garver and Charlie Gibson.

Bumgardner toured for a while with Arthur Smith and his band and also performed with Tommy Faile.

Thinking back on his music career, Bumgardner said, “The best band to play for are the elderly. They don’t care what you play as long as they can dance to it. for them.”

“Few musicians here have done more in the entertainment business than he has,” said Bob Bigger, retired radio host and music promoter. “Darrell has kept seniors on the dance floors across the Carolinas and appeared in a number of television shows.”

In addition to his parents, Bumgardner was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Joan R. Bumgardner, one son, Michael K. Bumgardner, two brothers, Raymond Bumgardner and Harold Bumgardner, three sisters, Mercedee Goodman, Thelma Gaston , and Kathleen Hudspeth and a beloved beagle named Sam.

Survivors include her daughter, Gine Edwards and her husband, Ray Edwards, of Mount Holly, a grandson, Brent Edwards of Arlington, Virginia, a nephew, Randy Bumgardner of Stanley, and many caring friends.

A Celebration of Life, chaired by Dwayne Gibson, will be held at 2 pm on Wednesday, December 8, at the Greene Funeral Service South Chapel, 1503 S. York Road, Gastonia.

A private burial will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Belmont.

Bill Poteat can be reached at 704-869-1855 or bpoteat@gastongazette.com.

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