J. Fred Lane passed away on May 13, 2018 after a brief illness.
Fred was born in 1927 in Scott County, VA to Clarence and Lovely Lane. Within 15 years, he had developed skills and passions that would be a constant part of his life: As a carpenter and builder with his father; as a horse-lover after seeing his grandfather’s work horse; and as a pianist who, despite early protestation toward his song-writing parents, soon began to please himself and countless others by “tickling the ivories” and expressing himself through music.
After graduating high school during World War II, he enlisted in the US Navy, and within a few weeks the Japanese surrendered. Fred was convinced this was not just coincidence. Upon his return to the USA, he began to further develop the skills that were his livelihood, culminating in his own business as a General Contractor. He loved to see his creation rise up from the dirt, and he kept enjoying his work into his late 80s. Fred was a builder—if you’re reading this you have almost certainly benefited directly from the many scores of building he constructed in the area.
His business card had the slogan, “A Hoss of a Building,” with a drawing of a Tennessee Walking Horse prancing. Fred always got a special glimmer in his eyes when describing the Tennessee Walker, of which he owned and showed many in his life... (family vacations tended to somehow always have a horse show in the vicinity). He was so fiery and knowledgeable on the breed, he once wrote an impassioned letter to the National Enquirer correcting a flawed story it had published on the subject, for which he received return correspondence from the Enquirer which read, in total, “Thank you for reading the Enquirer.”
Music was a big part of who he was. After his father was paid with a piano for some work he’d done, the music lessons began for 8-year old Fred, who was initially unimpressed with the fun this offered when compared to outdoor adventures with his mates. It didn’t take long for his talent to flourish, and in no time he was playing for the family quartet...but the real value of his new skill was only appreciated in his teenage years, when he realized that Boogie-Woogie piano had a sort of Pied Piper effect on teenage girls. As time passed, he came to understand it wasn’t only young girls who were drawn to his music, and he brought joy and comfort to multitudes playing in churches, convention halls, homes, and even onboard his Navy ship, where he was the only person aboard who could provide piano entertainment to the Seamen.
Fred was a truly gentle, sweet man, quick with a joke and a smile, who made it clear he was always happy to see you. Like his buildings and his business, his life was built on a solid foundation, with integrity, hard work, and kindness among the many pillars of virtue by which he lived. While his close presence will be desperately missed, he will live on in the wisdom and loveliness he passed on to those he touched in his long life.
Fred is survived by his wife Barbara Miller Lane of Kingsport, TN; his children and their spouses David (and Donna) Lane of Crossville, TN; Karen (and Johnny) Garland of Boca
Raton, FL; Todd (and Kim) Lane of Gate City, VA; Tamara (and Johnny) Barnes of Springfield, VA; and Tanya (and Randy) Wagner of Columbia, TN; his grandchildren Zachary Garland, Amy Lane, April Tegeler, Danny Campbell, Ryan and Russell Wagner, Amara and Caleb Barnes, Kenneth and Jordan Lane, and; his sister Evelyn Bellamy of Chattanooga, TN; 4 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and a multitude of friends.
The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at the Gate City Funeral Home and other times at the residence. A Celebration of the Life of J. Fred Lane will be conducted at 7:00 p.m. in the Gene Falin Memorial Chapel of the funeral home with Pastor David Salley officiating, and eulogies by family and friends. Music will be under the direction of Eddie Welch, with pianist Mark Ison.
Military Graveside services will be conducted at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 16 at Holston View Cemetery in Weber City, VA by the American Legion Hammond Post #3, Kingsport, TN and Post #265, Gate City, VA. Carroll Hurd will be providing the music at the graveside service. Grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, please feel free to donate to Gravely Baptist Church or the American Heart Association via Gate City Funeral Home.