Harry Neil Stretcher

Born in Hamilton, OH on January 21, 1938

Departed on August 16, 2018 and resided in Hendersonville, TN

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Harry Neil Stretcher, known to friends as “Neil”, age 80, of Hendersonville, TN, went to his eternal reward on Thursday, August 16, 2018.

He was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Margaret Ellen Howe Stretcher.

Neil was born in Hamilton, Ohio and grew up in the family home in Trenton, Ohio. He attended and graduated from Trenton High School.

Neil was a man of very strong faith and trust in God, as heard in his testimonial on his recording of “Piano Man”.

Neil’s experience as a performer, vocalist, pianist and writer has covered a wide range of musical settings from smart jazz clubs to being a crowd favorite in Las Vegas. He has sung and played theatres, hotels, fairs, concerts, etc. from Hawaii to Europe, from Hollywood to the Winter Olympics in Norway, and has played church concerts all over the country.

Neil had an incomparable style. He had a definitive way of delivering a song with such a fresh approach, he made it his own. His originality would include many of his own compositions, and being a very active songwriter, when not performing live, you would find him in the studio. As Nashville hall of fame songwriter Dallas Frazier noted, “During my long music business career, I’ve known just a few musicians endowed with the incredible diversity that this man’s been blessed with!  ‘A man for all music occasions` is a term that truly describes Neil Stretcher. Whether the job calls for gospel, traditional country music, big band standards, the blues and jazz sounds of New Orleans or the show tunes of Broadway, this entertainer can meet the demand!”

During Neil’s 14 years on the Grand Ole Opry, he performed and became friends with most all the Opry legends including Ferlin Husky, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jeanie Seeley, Chet Atkins, Connie Smith, Jack Green, Gene Watson, Johnny Russell, Steve Wariner, Lefty Frizzell, Barbara Fairchild, Hank Thompson, Harold Bradley, Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart, Freddie Hart, Boxcar Willie, and Kenny Price, to name a few among many. Other Nashville appearances included Opryland Hotel, General Jackson Showboat and the Nashville Palace. And the greatest honor of all for him has been the privilege to play and create with some of the world’s greatest musicians.

Neil has also appeared on stage with Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam and Jack E. Leonard. Through Chet Atkins, Neil met and wrote with Homer and Jethro who recorded some of Neil’s song parodies.

Neil was a life member of the Nashville Musicians Association, a life member of ROPE (Reunion of Professional Entertainers), and was affiliated with ASCAP as a songwriter and publisher.

Neil had a true appreciation for the outdoors and loved fishing every year in Florida.

Neil is survived by his beloved life partner Debbi Bailes of Hendersonville, 3 children; Brian (Denise) of Brevard, NC, Harry (Diana) of Bandera, TX and Zoey Joy of Kittery, Maine. Also survived by 2 sisters, Vera Conarroe (Roy) Keyser of Ashland, KY, Sue Ellen Maloney of Elizabethtown, KY; two grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.

Neil was known for his quick wit and his uncanny ability to reach people in a deep and positive way. His enormous personality will be sorely missed. He would always say: “Leave ‘em laughing”. That he did!

A Celebration of Life will be held Monday, August 20, 2018, 3pm at Hendersonville Funeral Home with Van Banks and Larry McCoy officiating. Interment will be Wednesday at 11am at Miltonville Cemetery in Trenton, Ohio. Visitation will be held Sunday, August 19, 2018 at Hendersonville Funeral Home from 4-7pm and again on Monday prior to the service from 2-3pm.

26 Comments to Harry Neil Stretcher

  1. Jim Saleem
    August 17, 2018 7:05 pm

    I will always remember the the good times I had working with Debbie and Neil. It always use to crack me up when Debbie would pay me a complement and Neil would say ” Jim, Jim, Jim” it’s all about Jim. Another funny memory was when it was break time he would look at me and say I’ll race you to the bar, he usually won. I will never forget the first time I met him. When we finished our gig he walk over to me and said, “son” you really know how to work that saxophone.
    R.I.P. my friend

  2. Wanda Loman Woodrey
    August 18, 2018 10:58 am

    Neil will always be remembered by his classmates of 1955 from old Trenton High School in OH. He and his buddies would stand on the street corner an sing until the lights were turned off .He was a friend to each and everyone of us. Oh what fun we all had with Neil leading us in whatever we all were doing. He loved to fish and hunt with all the fellows. We might say he was our class clown as well asa good musician. We will surely miss our dear friend Neil.

    Your 1955 Classmates.

  3. Lucia Stretcher Sigmar
    August 18, 2018 11:03 am

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Although I knew Neil only through my father’s (Robert H. Stretcher, Jr.’s) meaningful experiences with him, I feel a mixture of regret that we never met in person and profound loss at his passing. May you take comfort in his memory and the impact that he made on so many lives.

  4. Sheila Lehrke
    August 18, 2018 11:09 am

    Your many friends at Post 88 will miss you at the Sunday dances. Rest in peace, dear one.

    Jay and Sheila

    August 18, 2018 11:26 am

    My sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Neil. The loss of our dear loved ones can be very difficult and distressing to cope with. It has helped myself and others when we remember that our dear loved ones now safely rest in the loving memory of our Grand Creator, Jehovah ( Psalm 83 : 18 – God’s name ). May you be comforted in knowing that Jehovah hates death ( 1 Corinthian 15 : 26 ) and promises to eliminate death forever and bring ones sleeping in death back to life on a cleansed earth. ( John 17 : 3; Isaiah 25 : 7,8; Revelation 21 : 3-5; Acts 24 : 15; Psalms 37 : 10,11, 29 ). I hope these few scriptures along with your own good and loving memories of Neil help to soothe your hearts and bring you comfort, peace and a hope. Sincerely

  6. Annette J Tidwell
    August 18, 2018 1:06 pm

    I did not know this gentleman but from what I heard from friends and reading his obituary he was a jewel. Will keep his family and friends in my prayers. RIP Harry Niel Stretcher.

  7. Lisa
    August 19, 2018 12:32 am

    I just heard about Neil and will always remember him
    as a talented and funny person…truly his own man.
    I’m lucky to have known him…RIP Neil.

  8. Joanne
    August 19, 2018 9:40 am

    Bill and I are so very sorry for your loss. Neil was a kind
    Gentleman and he will be missed by so many people.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire

    Bill and Joanne Hawley
    Post 88

  9. Robert B. Quinn, D.V.M
    August 19, 2018 11:56 am

    My deepest sympathy to family and friends. Harry introduced me to a sampling of Neil’s music and I can say he was a gifted musician. Through his career I’m sure he touched many lives.

  10. Les and Judy Marsh
    August 19, 2018 1:58 pm

    We loved dancing to Debi and Neil’s music wherever they played. Les, a musician himself, truly appreciated Neil’s talents and ability to play any song we requested, and do it well! We will miss his music and his humor. Our condolences to Debi and his family and friends.

    • Inez Copass and Barry Lawson
      August 19, 2018 3:45 pm

      Neil you will be missed so much, loved you much not just your music but your friendship also and i no Debbi will be lost may you rest in piece we all loved you Inez and Barry

  11. Claudia Atchley
    August 19, 2018 2:40 pm

    I am so very sad to read in the paper of Neil’s passing. I only heard recently of his illness. It was at a dance he and Debbie played their wonderful music that I met my Harold and we danced so many times to their songs. My heart goes out to you Debbie. Neil was a very special man. Love ,Claudia Atchley

  12. Claudia Atchley
    August 19, 2018 2:41 pm

    I am so very sad to read in the paper of Neil’s passing. I only heard recently of his illness. It was at a dance he and Debbie played their wonderful music that I met my Harold and we danced so many times to their songs. My heart goes out to you Debbie. Love ,Claudia Atchley

  13. Marie Kincaid
    August 19, 2018 2:50 pm

    My deepest and sincere sympathy goes out to Debbie and family..he will truly be missed by many…danced to many tunes played by he and Debbie…Rest and Peace dear friend….

  14. Mary Jane McGowan
    August 19, 2018 3:07 pm

    So sorry to hear of Neil’s passing. Prayer to Debbi and the family.🙏🏻🙏🏻

  15. Sheryl
    August 19, 2018 4:58 pm

    Rest In Peace Neil. You were loved by many, and will be greatly missed. My prayers are with your loved ones.

  16. Tracy Vrab
    August 19, 2018 11:43 pm

    Deepest sympathies to all of Neil’s family and friends. He will be greatly missed. Prayers for strength and peace in these difficult days.

    Tracy Haynes Vrab
    Daughter of Homer Haynes
    Homer and Jethro

  17. Tommy & Vickie Hicks
    August 20, 2018 12:20 pm

    We are so very saddened by the loss of our good friend Neil! He was such a fine man loved by all who knew him. He was The most talented person we have ever met. He could play the Piano and keyboard like No other.. His Deep Faith And Uplifting Personality And Love for others made him who he was. He had a sharp wit and a loving smile.and Time for Anyone who needed him or just a ear to listen. We haven’t seen you in a while now but always remember our wonderful times we had together! In the arms of Jesus now and he will never be forgotten by all who loved him. Until we meet again our Dear Friend. Rest In Peace 🙏🏻

  18. Michael Bub
    August 22, 2018 8:05 am

    I came to know Neil through his association with Johnny Russell at the Opry. We did a few recording sessions together and that time of waiting around between songs he kept us in stitches. Neil was a tremendously gifted pianist and I recall him being the only musician that performed at Johnny Russell’s funeral. I don’t think I heard him play more eloquently than he did that day. The musicians in this town that shun the spotlight in favor of the artist are so many and their talents are are never fully recognized or on full display. Neil was one of the finest musician to ever grace the stage or studio in this town, a true virtuoso and I’m glad I got to see and hear his genuine up close. RIP Neil, thanks for the music and the laughs, peace and prayers for your family and friends.

  19. Howard L. Hale
    August 29, 2018 3:14 pm

    Neil was a joy to know he will be missed. My Mom Gloria had a special bond with Neal. We were blessed to have enjoyed knowing Neil

  20. barbara martin
    September 1, 2018 7:17 pm

    I was so impressed with Neil’s vocal style and songwriting. And what a career and life story, lived to the fullest! Now rest.

  21. George & Claudia Shrive
    September 6, 2018 8:22 am

    Many fond memories of Neil’s performances around the Middletown, Ohio area in the past. Looking forward to seeing him again in Heaven.

  22. Bobby Luck
    September 20, 2018 3:55 pm

    Debby I just learned of neils passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Was glad to be his friend

    February 22, 2019 8:16 am

    Just found out about Neil, May God Bless your family and bring them peace. Neil, was a great musician and a great entertainer. Neil R.I.P.

  24. Son
    August 23, 2019 2:26 pm

    I miss you daddy..

  25. Sharon Hankinson
    December 30, 2019 10:17 pm

    I enjoyed listening to Neil’s music in Middletoelwn , Ohio. Great musician and a great wit. I still remember a song he wrote about Cincinnati traffic jams…..” Millcreek Expressway, I’m stuck on you”. So witty. Always enjoyable.

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