All grown up, the Valley Boys keep singing

Jeremiah Ray, Dillon Hurst and Timothy Ray are the Valley Boys.

If you, like most of Union County, have an "I remember when" story about the Valley Boys gospel group, it probably involves seeing three kids who could be triplets, singing a cappella gospel music with the gusto of guys twice their size. My own involves seeing the boys at the Union County Historical Society back in 2008 and taking their picture for the weekly newspaper.

They've grown a bit since then. The Valley Boys, twins Jeremiah and Timothy Ray and their first cousin Dillon Hurst, graduated from Union County High School in 2015. The Rays are both in nursing school at LMU, and Dillon is attending TCAT's diesel program. Another milestone, in recent years both Rays were ordained at the group's home church, Raccoon Valley Baptist.

The "valley" in the group's name comes from the various valleys of their childhood. Raccoon Valley Baptist is one. Hickory Valley Road, where they all live, is another. Grandparents live in Little Valley, so the boys spent some growing-up time in that area, too. But it was at Raccoon Valley Baptist where the three first started singing together.

"We were kids and they didn't want to tell us no," joked Timothy.

Singing runs in the family, too.

"Every bit of my mom's side of the family, everybody sings," said Dillon.

The Valley Boys started singing in unison, but around age 10, they tried some harmony. It was spot-on.

"We were coming back from Dollywood," said Dillon. "We were singing 'Amazing Grace.' We all just hit it and it clicked."

Now, gospel harmonies are part of every performance, as are guitar and mandolin. They've recorded two albums and have performed in venues big and small. Early on, local churches asked them to sing, and word of their talents spread around the community.

"We saw that a lot of people were being blessed by it," said Jeremiah.

"We've sang at a lot of funerals, too," said Timothy. "We just like helping people out."

Their most-requested song is "I Have Been Blessed," a favorite that they also sang at their high school graduation. Another favorite tune is "Thank You Lord."

A couple of years back, the Valley Boys went on a tour of Catholic churches as far away as Iowa at the request of Brother Craig Digmann of Saint Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church in Maynardville, to share a bit of East Tennessee culture with folks up north. But, the Valley Boys felt as blessed by the experience as the people they met, allowing them to reach across denominations in the family of God.

"It opened our eyes to being more open and accepting of everybody's opinions," said Timothy.

The Valley Boys thanked God for being their inspiration, and thanked their family and community for all their support.

These days Dillon, Jeremiah and Timothy are taking a little break from the music scene to make room for school and work, but they've not stepped away completely. They'll be performing at the Union County Heritage Festival October 7, and they're still willing to pursue music as a career if they can find a way to do it.

"As long as we can all get together, we'll do it," said Timothy. "If God were to open that way for us, we'd love to do that."

"We never know where the singing might take us," added Dillon.

Find out more about the Valley Boys on their Facebook page.

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Fred Carl King

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A native of Union County, Estelle was born in the Nave Hill community on January 8, 1914. She was a retired school teacher and received her teaching certification from Lincoln Memorial University. Estelle educated generations of families in the county, having taught first through eighth grades in a one-room schoolhouse in the Nave Hill and Hubbs Grove schools. She ended her 30 year-career at Maynardville Elementary School.

James (Frank) Edwards

James (Frank) Edwards, age 80, went to be with the Lord Thursday, February 22nd after a long illness. He enjoyed time with his family, especially his grandchildren and playing his guitar. He was a member and deacon of Bryams Fork Baptist Church.

Irene (Walker) Nelson

Irene (Walker) Nelson - age 83 of Halls passed away peacefully with her family at her side on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. She was a devoted wife, mother, sister, mamaw, aunt, and friend. She is now rejoicing in heaven alongside of her husband Arvel Marion Nelson, daughter Martha Nelson, grandson Jason Nelson, parents Andy and Cora Walker, brothers Glen Walker, Houlk Walker, Perry Walker, sisters Virgie Gabriel, Cecila Brantley, and Ethel Dennis. Her legacy lives on through her loving and devoted family: daughter Judy (David) Walton, sons Tommy (Marlene) Nelson and Jeff Nelson.

Scott Sparks

Scott Sparks, age 51, of Knoxville, TN, went to be with the Lord on Monday, February 19th, 2018. Scott earned his bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina, his masters degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was a teacher at Karns High School. He was a former College Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, former Pastor at White Stone Church, and founding Pastor of The Grove Church. Scott's passion was leading people to Christ and walking along side them in their faith journey.

John Sterling Inklebarger

John Sterling Inklebarger, age 82, of Corryton, passed away Sunday, February 18, 2018. He was a member of Graveston Baptist Church. He owned his own trucking company hauling building materials until a tragic accident in 1973 that left him disabled. He loved traveling with family and spending time with his friends whittling and trading knives. He will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.

Frank Humphrey

Frank Humphrey, age 81, of Knoxville, TN, gained his angel wings on Sunday, February 18, 2018. He was preceded in death by: Wife: Ann Humphrey Father: Frank T. Humphrey Mother: Ella Hammock Brothers: Eddie, John and Larry Humphrey Sister: Francis Adams Son in Law: Bob Greene Survived by: Daughter: Vickie Greene, Son: Frank “Scott” and Rhonda Humphrey Granddaughter: Tiffany and Dale Coward Great Grandchildren: Dalacie and Kyle Coward Brother: Gary Humphrey, Sisters: Brenda Owen and Linda Brooks. Special Sister in Law: Judy Ogle, Special nephew and Niece: Joseph and Alexis Stafford.

Irene Wyrick Sherritze

Flossie Irene “Nanny” Sherritze-age 90 of Maynardville, born December 3, 1927 went to be with her Lord Sunday morning, February 18, 2018 at home. She was devoted to her family and her church. She was a member of Hines Creek Baptist Church in which she was instrumental in getting organized in the early 1950’s. Preceded in death by parents, Edgebert and Lucy Wyrick; husband, Charles “Rattler” Sherritze; daughter, Norma Faye Sherritze; brothers, Ralph, John, Fate, Jim, Ceba, Swann, J. Will and Earl Wyrick.

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Jackie Ray Campbell

Jackie Ray Campbell-age 70 of New Tazewell passed away Friday afternoon, February 16, 2019 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He was a member of Chittums Chapel Baptist Church and was a U. S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam War.

Survivors: sisters: Margie Stansberry and Nancy Harvey, both of New Tazewell.

Private memorial service will be held at a later date. In accordance with his wishes, he will be cremated. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

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