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Who Big Bill Lister
What Obituary: Big Bill Lister, Country Entertainer and Former Member of Drifting Cowboys
When December 1, 2009
Where San Antonio, TX

Weldon E. "Big Bill" Lister, age 86, was born January 5th, 1923, in Karnes County, Texas. He died after a brief illness on December 1st, 2009, in San Antonio.

Standing almost 6'8", country entertainer Big Bill Lister began his musical career in 1938 on KNEL radio in Brady, Texas. Later during the '40s, he worked in and around San Antonio where he did numerous live radio and stage shows, including the very first San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo.

In the early 1950's, he moved to Nashville where he recorded for Capitol Records, was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry, and traveled the USA as Hank Williams Sr.'s opening act. Subsequently, Big Bill worked with just about every country star from that era including Little Jimmy Dickens, String Bean and Minnie Pearl to name a few.

In the 1960's Bill retired from the music business and took up another love, firearms engraving. His beautiful designs and artistic work placed him in the forefront of the field, his work in private collections the world over.

Never far from music, his career was revived in the late 1980's when he discovered the only known copy of Hank Williams "There's A Tear in My Beer" stored in his attic. The record was a demo Hank had given so Big Bill could learn and record the song.

Bill continued to record and perform throughout his lifetime with his last performance being shared with hundreds of traditional country music fans on a Carnival Caribbean cruise last October.

In addition to being a multi-talented musician, firearms engraver and artist, Big Bill was a man of character and integrity. Big Bill looked at the inside of a person & not at the outside and he had the special gift of making folks feel at home, as if they had known him all their life.

Big Bill was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Lila Mayfield Lister. He is survived by his son, Weldon & wife Toni; grandchildren, Kristen & Thomas Hattenbach, Jaime Lister, Lauren Lister and W.E. "Little Bill" Lister III; Great-grandchildren Bentley Lister; JoeAnne, Danielle, Holly and Teddy Hatenbach.

The family would like to thank the staff of Life Care Hospital in San Antonio for making Bill's last days so comfortable.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum 1701 S. Bridge St. Brady Texas 76852.

Visitation will be held Friday, December 4, 2009, from 5-7PM at the First Baptist Church of Boerne.

The funeral will be Saturday, December 5, 2009, at 10AM at the First Baptist Church of Boerne.

Interment will be Saturday, December 5, 2009, at 3PM at Oak Rest Cemetery in Medina, Texas.

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San Antonio Express-News


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