The Tragic Truth About Loretta Lynn's Children

There is no doubt that Loretta Lynn was one of the most influential figures in country music. The Kentucky native stole the heart of fans with heartfelt lyrics and a captivating voice through classics such as "Don't Come Home a Drinkin'" and "You Ain't a Woman Enough." Without any formal signing training, Lynn went into building a life-long successful music career and winning a series of accolades including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2010, which is given "to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording" (via Grammy Awards).

It comes to no surprise the wide-spread shock that followed the announcement of her death in early October. "Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills," her family said in a statement shared with The Associated Press. The mother of six will be remembered as a groundbreaking figure who was able to break into the country music sphere in the early 1960s while it was still very much male-dominated and create songs about the rural life experience. 

Loretta Lynn became a mother really young

Beyond Loretta Lynn's impressive musical talent, fans were drawn to her thanks to her fascinating life story which she often used as inspiration for her lyrics. The movie adaptation of her life, "Coal Miner's Daughter," won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and gave American actress Sissy Spacek her first Oscar win in the category of Best Actress (via IMDb).

Lynn got married to Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn Jr. at the young age of 15 and had their first child, Betty Sue Lynn, at 16, according to The New York Times. Her first pregnancy came very much as a surprise, as she revealed in an interview with Esquire. "When I got married, I didn't even know what pregnant meant. I was five months pregnant when I went to the doctor and he said, 'You're gonna have a baby.' I said, 'No way. I can't have no baby.' He said, 'Ain't you married?' Yep. He said, 'You sleep with your husband?' Yep. 'You're gonna have a baby, Loretta. Believe me.' And I did." 

Betty Sue Lynn was really close to her mother

While her first pregnancy wasn't planned, Loretta Lynn loved and admired her first-born, as described on the singer's website. "It was Betty Sue who made me a momma. [...] Those early days were full and long. Keeping house, working the garden, and keeping up with the little ones was more than a full time job. Betty Sue became a little boss to the next three! She was feisty, she was fun and in many ways it felt like we raised each other!" the country star wrote. "She had a heart of gold and she thought everyone was important. People nor animals neither one went hungry if Betty Sue knew." Betty Sue, just like her mother, was passionate about songwriting and composed tunes under the name Tracy Lee, per Country Thang Daily.

According to Billboard, Lynn's eldest daughter died on July 29, 2013 at age 64 from respiratory complications near her mother's ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The event devastated the mother as the two had a really close relationship. "How I'd love to sit down with her to talk a while, laugh, and sing together just one more time," Lynn wrote nine years after her daughter's death. "Momma loves and misses you, Betty Sue."

Loretta Lynn lost her eldest son in an accident

Jack Benny Lynn was Loretta Lynn's second child and first boy. Unlike his mom and sister, he didn't pursue a career in music but instead dedicated himself to training horses and taking care of the family ranch, according to PBS. In 1984, at the age of 34, Jack had a fatal accident while horseback-riding in the Hurricane Mills ranch. As he tried to cross the Duck River, Jack fell off his horse, hitting his head and eventually drowning (via People).

The death of her son changed Lynn's life forever, as she expressed in a 2021 Facebook post. "My Jack. Today in 1984 my life changed forever. You are never the same after you bury one of your children — never. I've thought of him and missed him every day for 37 years," the country singer stated. "[Betty Sue and Jack] kept me on my toes and I'd do it all again if I could. They're together now. Jack, I love you, honey. You still bring a smile to me every time I think of you." Jack's son, Jeffrey Allen Lynn, who lived at Loretta's Tennessee ranch, suddenly passed away in 2016, another terrible loss for the Lynn family (via USA Today).