KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When filmmaker Ken Burns and musician Marty Stuart launched a campaign to honor every city in America, Dolly Parton was ready and willing to honor her hometown of Sevierville.
The ‘Honor Your Hometown’ campaign is an all-volunteer initiative to highlight the common bonds that unite us as Americans by celebrating hometowns across the country.
Hundreds of community leaders, officials, educators and entertainers have released videos talking about what they love about their hometowns. The first two to share their stories? The late Colin Powell and Sevierville’s own Dolly Parton.
“We all love Dolly for so many reasons, but one of her greatest qualities is the unending respect and affection she has always shown for the people and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains,” Burns and Stuart wrote in a USA Today op-ed announcing the initiative.
In 101 seconds, she recalls what made her upbringing in Sevierville so special and even goes into a brief rendition of her song “My Tennessee Mountain Home.”
She also paid tribute to Dr. Robert F. Thomas, a minister and family physician who served residents across Sevier County and delivered Dolly in 1946. She famously immortalized the doctor with a 1973 song in his honor.
“I loved everything about our little town of Sevierville, Tennessee and the people. A lot of special people there,” Parton said. ” Not just my parents, who I love dearly, and my family but folks like Dr. Robert F. Thomas who was a missionary that was sent to take care of the Appalachian people, the people there in the Smokies especially. He would ride his horse back into those mountains where all of us country folk lived, delivering babies and taking care of people that couldn’t go out to the hospital. He delivered me so I wrote a song about him.”
Dolly serves as the honorary chairperson of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, a charitable organization established in 1983 to expand health care services in Sevier County. The Dollywood theme park also features a functional chapel named in his honor.
Whether she’s promoting literacy throughout the world with the Imagination Library, increasing the local high school graduation rate through scholarships, assisting wildfire victims or donating to life-saving medical research, Dolly Parton is has always honored her Tennessee mountain home.