BAKERSFIELD, California – Dana Haggard, Merle Haggard’s eldest daughter has died according to an Instagram photo posted by her brother Ben Haggard on Wednesday(April 11). She was 61 years old.
“My oldest sister Dana passed away yesterday,” youngest brother Ben Haggard wrote in an Instagram post. “This absolutely broke my heart. I know she’s hugging dad’s arm again. I’ll miss you, sister. RIP.”
The circumstances around Dana Haggard’s death are currently unclear.
Dana Haggard’s family believes she died in her sleep, either on Monday night (April 9) or Tuesday morning. Her sister, Kelli Haggard Patterson, tells the news outlet that Dana’s husband, Terry Lemons, left for work on Tuesday morning while she was still sleeping and found her in the same spot later that day.
“It could have been heartache,” Ben Haggard says. “We just had the second anniversary [of our father’s death], and she was missing the old man. Who knows?”
Dana died only a few days after the two-year anniversary of her father’s death. Merle Haggard died on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday.
A swift on Dana’s journey
Dana Haggard was born in 1957 to Merle and his first wife, Leona Hobbs. She grew up in the family’s now-famous boxcar home, which is now a museum. She previously toured with her brother Marty as Marty and Dana Haggard and the Driftwood Band before joining her father’s band, The Strangers. Over the years, she often sang backing vocals for her father while he was out on tour. She also regularly performed solo shows and gigs alongside her brother, Noel.
Indeed, let us once recall that on the day Dana was born, the then-19-year-old land icon was imprisoned for car-theft. While she was still a toddler, Merle Haggard was taken away for five years after trying to break into a restaurant.
During a hometown memorial service for Merle in Bakersfield, Calif., Dana took a moment to describe her special relationship with her father.
“My dad was a lot deeper than anybody saw,” she told Bakersfield.com in 2016. “He loved to pick our brains. We never got in trouble for any thought we had, but he always played devil’s advocate with us. There were a lot of layers to that onion.”
Country Daily will update this story as more information becomes available.