• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Terminally ill Dolly Parton fan gets surprise call from country legend


When LeGrand Gold recently learned that his Stage 4 colon cancer had become terminal, he worried he might not complete all his bucket-list items.

About a year ago, Gold had written on a napkin 11 tasks he had long wanted to accomplish. Gold figured one of them — meeting singer Dolly Parton — would be impossible.

But after Gold’s wife, Alice, posted his wish on social media this month, Gold awoke to a call from an unfamiliar phone number Friday at his Utah home.

Long-time Dolly Parton fan LeGrand Gold, who is battling Stage 4 terminal colon cancer, received a call from the singer on Dec. 22 at their Orem, Utah home. (Video: Alice Wills Gold)

“Hey, LG,” Parton told Gold over the phone, according to a recording Alice provided. “It’s Dolly P.”

Gold, 48, was shocked to hear the voice of one of his favorite musicians. After they spoke for about four minutes, Parton changed the lyrics to her famous song “I Will Always Love You.”

“I will always love LG,” she sang, using Gold’s nickname.

Gold, who’s expected to live two to 12 more months, told The Washington Post that Parton’s call “meant a lot.”

“It’s an incredible story to tell people,” Gold said, “because everybody loves Dolly.”

Growing up in Kingsport, Tenn., — the same state Parton is from — Gold said he couldn’t remember a time he didn’t listen to Parton. His mother, Faye, often played Parton’s records and tapes. His favorite songs were “Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)” — he enjoyed listening to Parton yodel — and “Joshua.”

Gold moved to Knoxville, Tenn., in 2003 to raise a family and earn a law degree from the University of Tennessee. His children enjoyed visiting Dollywood, a Tennessee theme park that Parton co-owns. They also participated in Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends free books to children every month.

Even after Gold and his family moved to Orem, Utah, in 2011, they set up a speaker system in their kitchen, where they listened to Parton.

Gold said he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in November 2021. He said listening to Parton helped lift his mood through chemotherapy, but he was still exhausted and discouraged.

In December 2022, Gold was eating a Denver omelet at a Lindon, Utah, diner when Alice handed him a napkin and a black marker.

“What do you want to accomplish before you die?” Gold recalled Alice asking.

Gold titled the list “LG’s List of Living” and began completing some tasks a few months later. He watched TNT’s “Inside the NBA” live in Salt Lake City in February, visited Las Vegas for a college basketball tournament in March and attended singer Natalie Merchant’s concert in Chicago in May.

Meanwhile, Gold’s cancer had spread to his liver, and by November, to other parts of his body. On Nov. 21, Gold said that doctors told him that treatment was futile.

Hoping to help her husband finish his bucket-list tasks, Alice took to social media earlier this month. She used hashtags “#lgslistofliving” and “#desperatelyseekingdolly” and asked her followers for assistance connecting with Parton.

“Dolly, if this makes it to you, from one grateful and devoted wife to another, a one-minute phone call or Zoom call would be a life-ending highlight for my giant gentle kind and gracious husband,” Alice wrote on Instagram on Dec. 20.

Gold said that one of his friends from Knoxville, who had worked in the music industry, sent Parton’s management team Gold and Alice’s contact information. Parton’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

Dolly Parton blasts politicians without naming any. Call it ‘Dollitics.’

On Friday, Gold heard Alice’s phone ringing around 9:30 a.m. from a number that began with 615 — Nashville’s area code. They were expecting one of Parton’s managers to call, but they were surprised when they heard Parton say hello. Gold, who was groggy from his medicine and just waking up, said adrenaline rushed through him as his eyes popped open.

“I’m just happy to know that I’ve touched your life in some way, so thank you for honoring me with that,” Parton, 77, told Gold.

Gold and Alice told Parton about the ways she had affected their family. As they were finishing the conversation, Parton said: “Just know that I will always love you.”

Parton paused for a few seconds before adding: “I should’ve sung that.”

She then sang “I Will Always Love You,” with the revised final lyric. Gold laughed in his bed.

Gold still has a few unfinished bucket-list items — building a man cave, attending a March Madness game, cruising to Alaska and riding an electric bike. But he said he’ll always remember Parton’s serenade.

“That might become my new No. 1 song,” Gold told The Post.


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