Billy Jack Holcombe
Billy Jack "Handsome Bill" Holcombe (born September 27, 1937 in Maylene; died April 12, 2009 in Alabaster) was a musician, businessman, and the builder of "Lonesome Dove", a recreated western town in his back yard in Alabaster.
Holcombe was the son of J. D. and Cora Holcombe of Maylene. He grew up in Montevallo, watching Saturday westerns at the Strand Theatre there. He attended the University of Alabama but never graduated. He married and had three children.
Holcombe taught his daughter, Wendy to play banjo when she was 11. For her 12th birthday he took her to Nashville where, by chance, she was discovered by Roy Acuff and booked on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. That launched a television and touring career with her father and siblings playing back-up. She died from a congenital heart condition in 1987.
Holcombe then divorced and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was involved in several businesses, including partnering with Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson at Wilson Graphics. With his second wife he opened a string of Merle Norman Cosmetics outlets. He retired and gave her his Memphis home in the divorce, then returned to Alabama. Soon he began building a facsimile "Old West" town in his 10-acre yard. He constructed a saloon, barber shop, jail, livery stable, and a church. One building displayed his own hand-tooled holsters and the grist mill displayed mementos of Wendy's music career. He eventually opened the town to tours by appointment and especially enjoyed hosting groups of disabled children.
Holcombe died from cancer on Easter Sunday in 2009.
- Kemp, Kathy (May 1, 2005) "Lonesome no more." Birmingham News
- "Bill Holcombe" obituary (April 16, 2009) Alabaster Reporter
- Bill Holcombe on Findagrave.com