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Risey B. “R.B.” Scruggs

Risey B. “R.B.” Scruggs of Hartsville, Tennessee passed away Thursday February 18, 2021 at his home surrounded by his children.  Risey was born March 16, 1922 to William Franklin and Darthulia Montgomery Scruggs at their home on Lick Creek in Trousdale County.

Risey was born into a very talented musical family.  He was able to play the guitar, mandolin and piano, but was best known for playing the fiddle.  Although he was not able to read music, he played by ear and learned his first tune, “Sleepy Lou” from his mother when he was only 8 years old.  He wrote his first song, “Scruggs Reel”, when he was only 14 years old.  Risey began entering local contests which he started winning in his early teens.  In 1949, he was offered a job playing fiddle with the Possum Hunters Band on the Grand Ole Opry, but he chose to forego life as a professional musician to stay close to home to raise his children.  Even though he didn’t play fiddle for a living he continued to play in contests and for dances on the weekends throughout his life.  In the 1980’s Risey was asked to play at the County Music Awards with the band Alabama for the live performance of their song “You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band” and on June 24, 2017, Risey would finally play on the Grand Ole Opry Stage at the age of 95 and receive the only standing ovation and encore request of the evening. 

Risey continued to live in Trousdale County his entire life. In 1939, at the age of 17, he was saved at Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church while praying down in the floor and was baptized one week later into the church where he was the oldest member until he passed away. 

On March 21, 1942 he married Laura Beasley.  Their marriage was blessed with 8 children.  Risey was a farmer, but he also worked for a while at Ben Toby’s furniture store, at Texas Boot, and on the tobacco floor.  In 1970, Risey and Laura opened a small grocery store and continued to work there until they retired in 1984.  After retirement, he could be found making DVD’s and CD’s of music and gospel sermons to share with friends, family and even strangers. 

Risey B. Scruggs was a very special person. He had a wit about him like no other and a great sense of humor.  He had a wealth of knowledge and loved to share stories from long ago. 

Risey was preceded in death by his parents:

William Franklin Scruggs and Darthulia Montgomery Scruggs

His Brothers:  Jim, John, Will, Joe, Rufus, Carl, Monk and Ped Scruggs

His Sisters:  Lina Morgan and Ethel Jenkins

His Loving Wife: Laura Beasley Scruggs

2 Children: Linda Kay Scruggs and Hank Scruggs

1 Great Grandchild: Bailey Donoho

He will be greatly missed, but because he left a testimony of heartfelt salvation, we will see him again. 


He is survived by:

Son: Hoppy (Linda) Scruggs

Daughters: Jean Donoho

Aileen (Gary) Leath

Billie (Joe) Porter

Cathy Bush

Glenda Scruggs


Daughter-In-Law:  Carol Scruggs

Grandchildren:  Tracy (Tonya) Donoho

Shannon (Chris) Patterson

Shane (Leslie) Donoho

Lisa Leath

Dana (Roger) Willis

Scott Porter

Casey (Tammy) Scruggs

Heather (Anthony) Bowers

Rene (Randy) Pridemore

Shelly (Steven) Crook

Michelle (Warren) Osborne

15 Great Grandchildren and 8 Great Great Grandchildren