In this file photo, Merle Haggard and his converted boxcar home are seen just before it was moved from Oildale to the Kern County Museum.

Now it’s Bakersfield’s turn to say goodbye to Merle Haggard.

Valley Baptist Church will host a public service for the legendary, Bakersfield-born singer-songwriter starting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The church is at 4800 Fruitvale Ave., at the corner of Olive Drive.

The service will feature local singers performing a number of Haggard’s spiritual songs, like “What Will It Be Like” and his sister’s favorite, “Cabin in the Hills.”

“He’s telling God he doesn’t deserve a mansion in heaven; just build me a cabin,” Lillian Haggard Rea told The Californian last week.

Haggard died at his home in Shasta County on April 6, his 79th birthday, from pneumonia and complications of a blood disorder.

The memorial service will be preceded by a 45-minute pre-service, featuring photos and music, at 9:45 a.m. Valley Baptist ministers Phil Neighbors and Roger Spradlin will officiate at the main service.

Rea, a primary organizer of the memorial service, will next look into getting a gravestone or plaque to honor her brother at the Haggard family section of Greenlawn Cemetery. 


Merle Haggard memorial

Where: Valley Baptist Church, 4800 Fruitvale Ave.


9:45 a.m.: Photo montage

10:30 a.m. Service begins

10:32 a.m.: Welcome and opening prayer by Phil Neighbors, senior co-pastor of Valley Baptist

10:34: Eulogies begin and include presentations by the singer’s sister, Lillian Haggard Rea, and performances of Haggard’s spiritual music

11:10: Message from Roger Spradlin, senior co-pastor of Valley Baptist

Watch the memorial service

Bakersfield.com will live-stream the memorial service Tuesday, starting at 9:45 a.m. 

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