Sad news this morning for country fans and for the Haggard family. Merle Haggard's oldest daughter, Dana Haggard, has passed away, family members confirmed Wednesday. She was 61 years old.
"My oldest sister Dana passed away yesterday," youngest brother Ben Haggard wrote on Instagram. "This absolutely broke my heart. I know she's hugging dad's arm again. I'll miss you, sister. RIP."
The family believes Dana passed away either Monday night or Tuesday morning.
"Her husband left for work early in the morning (Tuesday), and she was still asleep," sister Kelli Haggard Patterson said. "When he got home later that day he found her and she hadn't moved."
The sisters were very close and stayed in touch daily. She even explained that this loss "is like having a limb removed."
"Dana was my best friend and we talked several times a day," Kelli said. "Our life when we were young was very different from what dad's youngest ones, Ben and Jenessa, experienced, so the four of us, Dana, me, Marty and Noel, clung to each other."
The family hasn't given any further details as to what caused Dana's death just that they believe it to be natural causes at this time.
"It could have been heartache," Ben said. "We just had the second anniversary (of their father's death), and she was missing the old man. Who knows?"
Ben said that the last time he saw his sister was at a show in Oklahoma last month.
"She got up and sang, 'Today I Started Loving You Again,'" he said. "And she sang her heart out. We all knew who she was singing for."
Back in the day, Dana toured with her brother Marty as the "Marty and Dana Haggard" band and also as the "Driftwood Band." Dana and Marty were also part of their father's band, "The Strangers." Dana typically sang as a backup singer.
Dana leaves behind her husband Terry Lemons, and their four children, and nine grandchildren. Please keep the entire family in your prayers during this tragic time.
Check out this beautiful tribute to Merle Haggard below:
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