This Country Star Made A Bold Decision And He’s Got People Talking

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Country music star Rory Feek experienced tragedy in 2016 when his wife and music partner, Joey, died from cervical cancer. But the star continues to be inspired by the woman he was married to for 14 years. Here’s a look at how Feek came to a decision that would change his young daughter’s life forever.

Nashville


Born in Atchison, Kansas in 1965, Rory Feek grew up to the sounds of country artists Merle Haggard and Don Williams. He first picked up a guitar at the tender age of 15 and after serving in the U.S. Marines, he began performing on the Dallas nightclub scene. His landed his big break when he moved to Nashville and signed a publishing contract in 1995.

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Catching Attention


He first caught the attention of the public four years later when he penned Collin Raye’s hit track, “Someone You Used to Know.” Feek later wrote Clay Walker’s “The Chain of Love” and Blake Shelton’s number one smash hit, “Some Beach.” He also went on to work on album tracks with artists Terri Clark, Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis, and in 2004, he founded his very own label, Giantslayer Records.

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Cheater Cheater


Feek became an artist in his own right in 2008 when he partnered with his wife Joey Martin to form an eponymous singing duo. Joey + Rory finished third on CMT’s reality competition Can You Duet? and subsequently signed a contract with Vanguard Records. They scored their first hit that same year when “Cheater, Cheater” peaked at No.30 on the U.S. Country charts.

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Quite The Duo


The pair went on to record eight albums together including their 2008 debut The Life of a Song, 2011’s festive LP A Farmhouse Christmas, and 2013’s gospel-influenced Inspired: Songs of Faith & Family. In 2010, they were crowned Top New Vocal Duo at the ACMs.

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New Arrival


Rory and Joey wed in 2002, ten years after Rory had separated from his first wife. Tamara Gilmer and the country star married in 1985 and had two children, Heidi and Hopie, before splitting in 1992. In 2014, Rory welcomed his third child with his new wife, Indiana Boon.
 

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Sad News


Shortly after giving birth, Joey made the devastating discivery that she had cervical cancer. After various treatments, she was in remission but just a year after treatment, she was informed the cancer had returned and had spread to her colon. Despite undergoing intensive surgery and chemotherapy, she was told that there was nothing her doctors could do; the cancer was terminal.
 

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Succumbed To Her Fate


Joey began receiving hospice care in November 2015. She would live to celebrate her daughter’s second birthday and spend a final Valentine’s Day with Rory. She would also rejoice at the news that Joey + Rory had received a Grammy nomination for their song, If I Needed You. Tragically, she succumbed to the illness in March 2016, passing at age 40.

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Gone But Never Forgotten


Joey was buried on the family’s Tennessee farm in an intimate private ceremony. Shortly after her death, Rory announced the release of To Joey, With Love, a film he had begun making as an anniversary gift which his wife would sadly never see. The couple’s final album, Hymns That Are Important To Us, reached No.4 on the Billboard 200, and in 2017, the album won the Best Roots Gospel Album Grammy.

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A Gift


In 2017, Rory brought his little girl, who was born with Down syndrome, a 1926 piano for her third birthday. The gift was a tender tribute to his and Joey’s dream of “Indy” learning to play a musical instrument. Mere months later, Rory made headlines for giving the three-year-old a much bigger educational tool.

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Brainwave


While driving Indiana to and from school, Rory began to think of the changes Joey would have made regarding their daughter’s special education. It was then he would come up with the brainwave of building Indiana her very own schoolhouse in the family backyard. “Home and school… at the same time,” reasoned Rory in a heartfelt post on his official blog.

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Great Ideas


Rory went on to add that Joey would have approved of the schools Indiana currently attended. He applauded the High Hopes Development Center for helping Indiana with her speech and physical therapy. He also praised the Ferntop Nature Preschool for being a hands-on facility that was dedicated to growing their children’s skills and passions.

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A Tough Decision


But Rory believes that ultimately Joey would have wanted their daughter to be homeschooled. He posted, “She would be way more interested in Indiana learning to be a good person than being a good reader. In her mind, home is the best place to learn those things.”

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She Would Always Be There


In an extra show of dedication, Rory decided he would build the schoolhouse himself. Rory soon began the construction with some support from local friends, family and neighbors. The schoolhouse sits on the same property where Joey is buried.

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Important Task


Rory explained in his blog why he opted for the D.I.Y. approach. “We could have just hired some folks to come build the schoolhouse. People who do it for a living and [that] would [be] fine. Probably easier in some ways. [But] I believe that ‘how you do something’ is almost as important as ‘what you do.’”

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Inspired By Something Interesting


Rory also credited one classic Hollywood movie as an influential inspiration. “Since Joey and I and our older girls are big fans of the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, we thought we’d open it up to the community. Make it something that isn’t just a beautiful moment and memory for us, but for others too.”

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Embracing His Vision


Thankfully, Rory’s local community embraced and supported his well-meaning vision. The country singer revealed in another post that over 50 people turned up at 7 a.m. one Saturday morning armed with tools, food and “hearts full of love” to help with school’s construction. He posted, “They were here to help build something big for someone little.”

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Big Ideas


Rory claims that although literacy and arithmetic will be on the curriculum, hands-on rural life skills will also play a big role in the kids’ education. Kids will be able to access a large adventure playground, planting garden and a concert hall, which doubles as a gym.

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Plenty Of Experience


The children will also gain plenty of experience caring for and working with farm animals. They will help to raise chickens in the school’s henhouse. They will also have the opportunity to learn various equine skills thanks to the family’s large stable of horses.

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Impact On His Daughter


Rory has bright hopes for the school’s future and the impact it will have on his daughter and little children like her. He blogged, “Who knows, maybe someday when she grows up, she’ll want to teach there. I have no idea where it will lead. Just hope in where it might lead. To be a blessing to her, and to other little ones like her.”

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