My Life

Dolly Parton At My People Senior Activity Center Dedication

Published May 8, 2018 / Last Updated May 8, 2018
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Dolly Parton stops by senior center for a surprise visit and special dedication.

A group of senior adults received a surprise visit from Dolly Parton on Monday, May 7, 2018. Dolly dropped in the newly renamed My People Senior Activity Center for a special dedication ceremony in honor of her parents, Lee and Avie Lee Parton.

Before the dedication and renaming ceremony, Dolly toured the facility. She sat in on an exercise class and a woodworking demonstration. There she was given a wooden bowl made from trees burned in the Gatlinburg wildfires. Another crafting club gave her a beautiful mosaic butterfly. She also popped in on a quilting class where talented quilters practice their handiwork. The beautiful quilts reminded her of her mother’s handmade quilts and clothes that were such a big part of her childhood.

At the center, seniors in Sevier County enjoy a number of activities, including fitness classes, crafting clubs, games and much more. As one of the center’s newest members, Dolly received her membership card allowing her access to all the amenities offered at the center. Of course, Dolly joked about her own senior status. She said,

“I am so excited to be part of this today. Of course, you know I’m a senior too. When I was over in Sevier County High School, I couldn’t wait to be a senior, and now that I’m in my second childhood, I’m a senior again.”

Renaming The Center

The name change is part of a rebranding initiative. The goal is to set the center apart from area medical facilities and remind people of their focus on programs, activities and services for adults over 60. The center provides a place for seniors to keep active and involved in a number of areas. Dolly spoke about how she maintains her young-at-heart mentality.

“I just keep myself busy, and I think that’s the key to staying young, and I’m proud to be a senior citizen. Of course, we all wish we could stay 30 forever, but we can’t, so I think it’s important that we stay active,” Dolly said. “We stay with a good attitude and get out and stay involved, make friends and be whatever, and I think being a part of this whole thing is really great, and it is my pleasure to dedicate this to my people.”

A number of Dolly’s family attended the dedication ceremony. Sevier County Mayor, Larry Waters and Sevierville Mayor, Bryan Atchley were also present. And Mayor Waters announced plans to expand the facility.

The My People Senior Activity Center is located at 1220 West Main Street Sevierville, TN 37862. Call 865-453-8080 for more information on programs and membership.

Dolly with the My People Senior Activity Center staff

Dolly receives a beautiful mosaic butterfly
Dolly visits the woodworking shop
Dolly receives a wooden bowl made from trees burned in the Gatlinburg wildfires
Dolly joins an exercise class
Dolly joins an exercise class
Dolly talks with the quilting class
Wood burning art on display
Beautiful mosaic butterfly
Dolly Parton with her brothers and sisters
Coat of Many Colors is always a favorite
Team DollyDolly Parton At My People Senior Activity Center Dedication

Smoky Mountain Adventures Cast – Avie Lee Owens & Lee Parton

Published June 14, 2017 / Last Updated June 14, 2017
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Introducing Diana and Andre, who play Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton in Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures.

Each night, Diana and Andre wow audiences as Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures. Together, they perform unbelievable aerial acts alongside an incredibly talented cast.
Here, they talk about how they met and developed their craft. They also chat about their different homes and share what they love most about living here in the Smoky Mountains.

Diana – Avie Lee Owens

Where are you from?
“I was born in Venezuela, and my family moved to Miami when I was nine years old.”

How is life in the Smokies different from Miami?
“It’s very different. I traded palm trees for mountains. We don’t have mountains in Miami.”

The Owens and Partons love to play family games. What types of games did you play as a child?
“I loved to draw and watched gymnastics and I danced a lot.”

So how does a girl from Miami end up starring in Smoky Mountain Adventures here in Pigeon Forge?
“I attended a special school for gymnasts. There, I was introduced to acrobatics and that’s where I started aerial training. Those things prepared me for the acts that are such a big part of the show.”

What is your favorite part of Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“I love performing the “Mountain Boy Holler Girl” scene with Andre and I really like the show opening too.”

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Diana met Andre during her training in Miami, FL. The two hit it off and have been working together for about three years before joining the Smoky Mountain Adventures cast.

Andre – Lee Parton

Where are you from?
“I was born in Siberia and yes it is way colder there than here!”

Siberia! Wow, besides the temperature, what are some of the other differences between your home and your new life here in Tennessee?
“It is really beautiful here and the climate here is nice. The forest is beautiful. In Siberia, it is mostly hills and pine trees, so there are some similarities that remind me of home.”

What kinds of games were you interested in as a kid?
“We played army and sword fighting, you know, typical boy stuff.”

How did you find your way from Siberia to Pigeon Forge?
“Sure, when I was 14 years old, I started lifting weights and really got into gymnastics more and more. I did high bar and I loved to breakdance. Later, I came to the US for more training. Then, about three years ago, I met Diana and we started working together. Our three years of experience together really helped prepare us for our performances here.”

What is your favorite thing about performing at Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“Honestly, I love that I get to do so many things. We have a really talented cast and I love that I can learn so much from the people I get to work with every day.”

Do you have a favorite part of the show?
“Yes! I love the Hootenanny. It’s so fun and lively and involves everyone.”

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Food, Songs & Dolly

Diana and Andre also sat down together to answer a few questions about the show, the dinner and, of course, Dolly Parton.

What’s your favorite part of Avie Lee’s Sunday Dinner?
Diana – “The fried chicken!”
Andre – “Yes, I like the chicken, too, and the corn on the cob.”

Do you have a favorite song from the show?
Diana – “I love ‘Something More’ I always sing it in my head during the show.”
Andre – “‘Clear Blue Morning’ that’s my favorite one.”

Outside of the show, do you have a favorite Dolly Parton song?
Diana – “Yes, ‘Jolene’ is my favorite, I love that song! I love singing it.”
Andre – “For me, it would have to be ‘9 to 5.’”

See Diana and Andre perform at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures this summer in Pigeon Forge, TN!

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Team DollySmoky Mountain Adventures Cast – Avie Lee Owens & Lee Parton

Daddy’s Dinner Bucket – Robert Lee Parton

Published June 15, 2015 / Last Updated October 17, 2015

The Lovelaces

Tim and Mary Alice Lovelace are a husband/wife writing duo who enjoy co-writing songs, news articles, and short stories.

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A Testament Of One Father’s Love

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Dolly’s most beloved accomplishment, her Imagination Library, a book gifting program that has mailed more than 70 million free books to children all around the world. Dolly is quick to tell you that although her father, Lee Parton, was one of the most intelligent men she’s ever known, his inability to read was her inspiration for Imagination Library. The program was started in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was born and raised, and continues to touch the lives of children around the globe.

Her father may have been unable to read the words “determination and generosity,” but his life certainly defined them. Each morning, he left for a hard day’s work in the mountains of East Tennessee carrying with him a green lunchbox that his children affectionately referred to as “Daddy’s dinner bucket.” When his weather-beaten hands opened up that box, his kind heart compelled him to save a portion of his lunch to share with his young children. When he returned home in the evenings, they were eager to greet him and see what he had saved for them. Oftentimes, it was part of a bologna sandwich or a piece of pie. To most people, a fragment of a sandwich and a stale piece of pie may not seem like much, but the children would take those tasty treats to a hideaway under a blackberry bush and have a picnic fit for a king.

When remembering her beloved father and the story of his dinner bucket, Dolly said,

“Our sweet Daddy worked so hard for all of us.  At night we used to take turns rubbing Daddy’s cracked, hard-working hands with corn silk lotion and we soaked and washed his tired old feet.  My sister Willadeene sweetly (and jokingly) dried them with her long beautiful hair. If Jesus could wash the feet of his disciples, at least we could do it for Daddy.  If you’re lucky enough to have great parents, it’s truly one of God’s greatest gifts. Happy Father’s Day to all the good daddies out there…and to the bad ones, too. Maybe they weren’t lucky enough to have a Daddy as good as mine.”

For years, that routine continued, day in and day out, as he worked tirelessly to provide for his wife and twelve children. On the day he finally retired, and with that same spirit of generosity, he gave his lunchbox away to another hardworking man, Oscar Dunn.


Dolly’s younger brother, Randy, dropped by the studio and shared this wonderful memory with us for Father’s Day and sang a little bit of the “Dinner Bucket Song,” a song that Dolly had actually written about Mr. Lee’s dinner bucket.

Many years later, with the dinner bucket being little more than a memory, the Parton family said goodbye to their beloved daddy who passed away just a few weeks before Christmas in 2000. He was laid to rest in the beautiful mountains he loved so dearly.

It was a difficult Christmas for all of the kids after saying their final goodbyes to their daddy. Randy, Dolly’s younger brother, was in for a special surprise on that Christmas Eve. On that cold night in December, Randy’s wife Deb handed him a brown paper bag. He opened it and discovered one of the greatest gifts he had ever received…his daddy’s dinner bucket! He was overwhelmed with emotion. Unbeknownst to Randy, Deb had made arrangements with Oscar’s sweet wife Faye and son Grant to bring Mr. Lee’s lunchbox back home to the Parton family. Memories flooded his mind as he examined it closely. What he found, a surprise much sweeter than any piece of pie, was that his father had learned to write his name and had scratched it into the green paint on that old dinner bucket.

That priceless green dinner bucket represents the immeasurable determination and generosity of a hardworking man whose legacy is not only etched into the hearts of his children, but also into the hearts of countless children around the world…and the story goes on…one page at a time…

Daddy's Dinner Bucket
Photo of Lee Parton's "Dinner Bucket." Special thanks to Randy Parton for sharing this story and allowing us to share a photo of this treasure with the world.
Photo of Dolly Parton and family
Parton Family Photo
Back from Right - Willadeen, Robert Lee, Avie Lee
Front from right - Denver, Bobby, Randy, Dolly, Stella, Cassie, David
Daddy's Dinner Bucket - Lee
Photo of Lee Parton's "Dinner Bucket" shows where he had scratched his name in the green paint.
The LovelacesDaddy’s Dinner Bucket – Robert Lee Parton