On Tues. Apr. 15, 2014, Oak Ridge Boys’ award-winning singer, songwriter and producer, Duane Allen, paid a visit to his hometown in the Cunningham Community near Paris, TX, where a bridge and road have been dedicated in his name. The singer’s family also made the trip to the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial in Paris, TX to support the memorial and honor military family members.
Duane and his family began their day with a tour of Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. During their visit, The Allen family donated a granite bench with markers in the Memorial to honor their family members who have served in the armed forces. “It was a very special event, and I encourage all of you to visit this wonderful place that pays tribute to Veterans of all wars that have served our country,” stated Oak Ridge Boys’ singer.
Following the Veterans Memorial, the Allen family traveled to Lamar County, where the bridge and road dedication ceremony was presented by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, and elected County Commissioner for Pct. 1, Lawrence Malone. The ‘Duane Allen Memorial Bridge’ crosses Big Sandy Creek and is located just a few hundred yards away from where Allen was born. Two blue signs reading ‘Duane Allen Road’ were placed on each end of the County Road. At Duane’s request, the new signs were placed in conjunction with the previous road signs, so local residents will not have to change their address.
“This is a very special honor to me; It means more to me than if it were to be the Golden Gate Bridge,” said Duane Allen, when describing how special the honor is to him and his family. The bridge crosses the creek that ran through the middle of the Allen family farm where he grew up picking cotton as a young boy. Duane said he has vivid memories of learning to fish and swim in Big Sandy Creek, and bike-riding over the bridge each day on his way to school. “I did not know until our bus turned down the small road that the bridge was on ‘our’ road; it was a complete surprise. I thought it would be south of our place, but when we turned down ‘our’ road, now named the “Duane Allen Road,” my stomach just about came out of my body. I was so thrilled that I did not have the proper words to express myself. I was still emotionally charged when I tried to speak.”
Following the ceremony, the Cunningham Community Center held a private celebratory pot-luck for Duane, his family, and hometown friends. This gave Duane time to visit, sing, and answer questions with his family, and reminisce in the town that his gift of music began.
“I’m wishing April 15, 2014 to be a wonderful and happy celebration for you and your family. As you walk over the bridge, let all your worries be water under the bridge. Have a safe journey my friend.” stated proud fellow Oak Ridge Boy, William Lee Golden, after learning of the honor to Allen.
Duane Allen joined the Oak Ridge Boys 48 years ago in 1966. Since then, the group has scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album—plus one double platinum single—and had more than a dozen national number one singles and over 30 top ten hits. The Oaks’ legendary career has gone on for 6 decades, encompasses more than 41 million albums sold, and includes numerous iconic hit singles such as “Elvira,” “American Made,” and “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” Currently, The Oak Ridge Boys are touring the United States, and released their first ever LIVE country hits album on Tuesday, Apr. 15, the day of the bridge & road naming ceremony.
Pictured L-R: Martha Shannon (Duane’s sister); Duane; Norah Lee Allen; Dee Allen (son); Tallant Martin (front row), Kell Martin, and March Martin (grandchildren), Joy Allen (sister-in-law), Texas Martin (granddaughter); Jamie Allen Martin (daughter), Paul Martin (son-in-law), and Fred Allen (Duane’s brother).