Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I did not know Peter Falk. But I admired him as an actor and thought that he created a superb character in Columbo. A day or so after his death from Alzheimer’s disease, I heard that Glen Campbell was suffering from the same affliction.

Glen once owned a theater in Branson, Missouri, and it happened that Branson held their annual Fanfare exhibition in his parking lot one year. I was there with many other celebrities, including my friends, Janet Dailey and Shoji Tabuchi. This was an event much like the one held in Nashville, where the public can meet the performers and pick up their albums or books and shake hands.

That day marked Glen Campbell’s last appearance in Branson. He had sold his theater and was returning to Nashville. My wife Charlotte and I went to the theater and watched this stirring performance. His daughter Debby also sang and the audience was captivated.

After the performance we met with Glen and Debby just off the lobby. I told him about a song that seemed perfect for him at this stage of his career. I also told him that I had been a fan long before he ever sang a note.

When Glen was a studio musician in L.A. performing for many bands on recordings, he also recorded a number of albums featuring him on stunning guitar solos. I had all those recordings and loved them.

A while before I talked to Glen, country music star Tommy Overstreet and I had been talking to singer/musician Jimmy Rodgers at Caravel Studios in Branson, which was built by our friend, Bob Millsap and then called Ironside Studios. Later it was boughtt by a wealthy man and the name changed. Rodney Dillard was managing it when Jimmy was writing songs and doing some recording there.

Jimmy played a song he had written for Frank Sinatra. It was called “Leader of the Band,” and Tommy and I were stunned by the beauty of both melody and lyrics. Tommy offered to give the song to Nancy Sinatra to show to her father. But, nothing ever came of it.

I told Glen about the song and told him he should get in touch with Jimmy, who lived in Forsyth on Bull Shoals Lake. I don’t know if he ever did but I have not heard the song since Jimmy sang it for us in the recording studio.

When I heard that he had Alzheimer’s and that Peter Falk had just died, I was reminded of how devastating that disease is. We had lost a dear friend to Alzheimer’s, Edith McCall, a writer who lived in Branson until the disease robbed her of memory. Her daughter Mary came out and took Edie to her home in California. Later, Mary told me that her mother “didn’t even know what a keyboard was.” I wrote an article about Edie which was published by Linda Fisher in her anthology, Alzheimer’s Anthology of Unconditional Love, after her husband died of the disease. And, still later, I wrote a short story about Edie and Alzheimer’s which was also published, Dark Solitude and is now in my short story collection, Little Journeys. The book is available on my website,

Recently, my friend Stephen Woodfin published his novel, Sickle’s Compass, (Gallivant Press), which features a man in the throes of that spectre, Alzheimer’s. It is a touching novel of love and war and, of course, Alzheimer’s.

The disease touches us all. As some of us grow older and our memory fails us, we wonder if we are in the early stages of the disease. It comes without warning, though, and robs its victims of not only memory, but of dignity and life. Edie lost her memory of how to write books, but eventually, she forgot to breathe. That is when this dark thief takes the life of its victims.

Glen Campbell, Peter Falk, Ronald Reagan, Edith McCall and many others left us with their creations, creations that were stolen from them, but continue to enrich our lives.


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