Rory Feek Lays Wife Joey Feek to Rest in "Tearful, But Optimistic" Funeral

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Rory Feek, the surviving member of the country/bluegrass duo Joey + Rory, laid his wife Joey Feek to rest in a private funeral earlier this week.

Bill Gaither of Gaither Gospel Hour fame spoke to People magazine about the music, Rory Feek's poignant words, and the celebration of Joey Feek's life.

"It was tearful, but it was optimistic, especially being on the dirt," Bill Gaither said. "She was part of the earth. We all felt as though we were close to her."

Joey Feek's casket was placed on a horse-drawn carriage. Rory Feek spoke at the service that preceded the burial on the family farm.

"Singers were performing 'Let's Go Down to the River to Pray,'" Gaither shared. "It was just a sweet Tennessee mountain moment. Very positive things were said at the gravesite."

Gaither adds that while Rory Feek is devastated over Joey's passing, he is drawing strength from his faith--especially for his two-year-old daughter Indiana.

the mail lady delivered big smiles to us today.... hand-sewn hats, made with love.

A photo posted by Joey+Rory (@roryandjoey) on

"He said, 'This is the first day of the rest of my life. I have responsibilities.' I think that's pretty special," Gaither said. "[He's thinking], 'What is the next step?'"

Both Bill and wife Gloria Gaither were close friends with Joey Feek's family, and since Rory came on the scene--with him as well.

"They've been married only 15 years, but I think they would say 15 great, fantastic years," he said of Joey and Rory Feek. "I look at people who have been married 50 or 60 years and I say, 'What would they give for 15 great years out of the 50 or 60?'"

Rory Feek is expected to speak at a public memorial for Joey to be held on Sunday in Alexandria, Indiana. It is being planned by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

"It's a special way for the family to say thanks to the community and for the community to love on the family," Gaither said of the upcoming memorial.

Rory Feek bid a bittersweet goodbye to wife Joey one week ago. He shared word of her passing via his blog, This Life I Live.

"My wife’s greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven," he began.

"The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior," Rory penned.

"At 2:30 this afternoon, as we were gathered around her, holding hands and praying.. my precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side," Rory wrote.

From that moment forward, Rory Feek knew it would fall upon him to keep his beloved Joey's memory alive for their little girl. He has a long road ahead of him, but he also has the strong Christian faith he and Joey shared.

Once Sunday's memorial for Joey is over, then Rory Feek will put one foot in front of the other, and set about fulfilling those wishes Joey asked of him.

May he find peace in his darkest days.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.