Shortly before midnight on June 25, 1986, in San Marcos, Texas, a tragedy happened that would forever change the Strait family’s lives.
George Strait’s daughter Jenifer Lyn Strait was riding with her three friends when a driver lost control of his Ford Mustang as he tried to take a turn too quickly. The car rolled over, south of San Marcos, not far from where the singer lives. Unfortunately, Jenifer’s window was open, and she did not have her seat belt on. The thirteen-year-old daughter of George and Norma Strait instantly lost her life that night, the only fatality of the one-car non-alcohol-related accident.
The King of Country was home during that time and was at the scene shortly after being notified. The family struggled to come to terms with the loss. The heartbroken singer said in a statement, “We will all miss Jenifer very much, and we will never forget her, her smile, and laugh.”
“She meant the world to us, and we’ll miss her dearly. We’re doing our best to make it through this with your help we will. It’s hard to think of the years ahead without her to see, but her memory will always be with us.”
Jennifer’s Death Prompted George Strait To Cut The Number Of Interviews He Agreed To
Ever since Jenifer’s death, George Strait stopped giving interviews and avoided every opportunity to address the tragic car accident. Though he once spoke to The New Yorker magazine in one of the few interviews, he has granted. He explained why the loss of his daughter prompted him to cut the number of interviews he agreed to.
“I just didn’t feel like talking about it, so I quit…I did want to keep singing, absolutely,” Strait said. “But I was at the point where I’m [like], ‘Alright, if this is going to cost me my career, then so be it, but it’s the only way I’m going to be able to cope with it.’ It just kind of turned out the way it did. It wasn’t an intentional thing.”
The Jenifer Strait Memorial Foundation
In 1986, George Strait and his family started the Jenifer Strait Memorial Foundation in memory of his beloved girl. According to its website, “The Foundation promotes charitable causes for children, and focuses its donations on various non-profit organizations, including; The Boys & Girls Club- San Antonio and St. Jude’s Ranch.”
It has also survived “mainly through private donations, which has come mostly by word-of-mouth from friends, and from Strait fans through the years.”
Jenifer Was Like A Mother To Her Brother Bubba
Jenifer has a very special love for her younger brother Bubba.
“To watch them together, and the way she watched over him made us know he was always safe with her, no matter what,” George Strait recalled. “He loved her back in the same way, and always will, just as we always will. She was like a second mother to Bubba in a way. They had their arguments like brother, and sister do but in the end she always made Bubba feel like he came out on top.”
Strait Thinks of The Late Jenifer Whenever He Sings “You’ll Be There”
In 2005, George Strait released the song “You’ll Be There,” and he got to admit that the song makes him think of his young girl.
“That song hit home for me for obvious reasons. I’m a religious person,” Strait said. “I honestly believe we will see each other in heaven someday. I wanted to do the song badly. The writer, Cory Mayo, held that song out because he knew I wanted to do it, and he waited until I had the chance. It was kind of him to do that.” “You’ll Be There” is a song about meeting a loved one in heaven. It was written by Cory Mayo and inspired by the 1999 death of his father, songwriter Danny Mayo.
In 1988, two years after Jenifer’s death, George Strait also released the emotional song called “Baby Blue” as the second single off of his album If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin’. Even though it has never been confirmed, many believe the song connects to the tragic death of Jenifer. The narrator in the song mourns about a beautiful girl with bright blue eyes, just like Jenifer’s own baby blues.
In the chorus, Strait sings: “And baby blue was the color of her eyes. Baby blue like the Colorado skies. Like a breath of spring, she came and left, and I still don’t know why.”
The Family Was Blessed To Have Jenifer In Their Lives
George Strait and his wife, Norma Strait, welcomed Jenifer into the world on October 6, 1972. She was their first child together.
Though the memories of losing her are too painful, still, George Strait said no list of his many blessings could be complete without Jenifer. “We were blessed to have been able to spend 13 years with our beautiful daughter Jenifer,” he said.