GLADYS LOVE PRESLEY 1912 – 14 August 1958 Pontotoc County Mississippi “He didn’t seem like Elvis ever again…” Lamar Fike, witness at Gladys Presley’s Funeral On 25 March 1958 Elvis reported for induction at Memphis Draft Board. He was accompanied by his parents and his friends. After being sworn in Elvis became Private Presley 3310761. With his fellow draftees he boarded an army bus for Fort Chaffee, Arkansas for basic training. The separation would break his mother’s heart.
Note: The Star of David on Gladys Love Presley’s tombstone. That decision was made by Elvis in honour of his Jewish heritage Something his mother was proud of & acknowledged to Elvis at an early age. After ten weeks Elvis was granted a weekend pass. Immediately RCA took the opportunity to have Elvis taken to Nashville for a recording session that resulted in several major hits.
Elvis’ main concern was his mother. It was obvious that Gladys was unwell, and admitted to Methodist hospital. Four days later, hepatitis was diagnosed. Elvis reluctantly returned to Army camp. Elvis and Father mourned the death of his Mother Gladys Love Presley
By August her condition had deteriorated so badly that Elvis was given compassionate leave to begin a 24 hours hour vigil with his father. On the night of August 14, Vernon sent Elvis home for same much needed rest. At 3am the phone rang and Elvis was told that his precious mother had died of a heart attack brought on by the hepatitis. In shock and disbelief Elvis rushed to the hospital.
After Elvis entered his mother ward and the door closed, witnesses remember a piercing wild despair of wails from Elvis were heard as he wept and prayed long and loud over his mothers lifeless body.
Elvis didn’t want an autopsy instead had her lie in state at Graceland. For two days Elvis just sat next to the coffin and just stared at his mother. Finally on the second night Vernon insisted that Gladys be buried. Elvis walked out to the front steps of Graceland and wept. The service at the Memphis Funeral Home was officiated by Reverend James Hamill and the Blackwood Brothers (Gladys, favourite Gospel group) sang: Rock of Ages, In the Garden, I am Redeemed and Precious Memories.
Celebrities such as, Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, Tennessee Ernie, Ricky Nelson and Sammy Davis Jr. sent their condolences. When it came time to lower the casket into the ground Elvis jumped up and hung on to the coffin, sobbing, “Everything I have is gone!” It took Vernon, Lamar Fike (Memphis Mafia member and cousin, Billy Smith to pull Elvis off the casket, while all the while Elvis screamed hysterically, “Please don’ t take my baby away. She’s not dead! She’s just sleeping.” Star of David on Gladys Presley Grave
Due to the bizarre August 29, 1977 ” break in” to steal Elvis’s body – on the evening of October 2, 1977, Elvis and his mother’s bodies were moved from their original places of burial at Forest Hill Cemetery and reburied side by side in the grounds of Graceland in an area Elvis had named the Meditation Garden. After Elvis’ father, Vernon Elvis Presley died on June 26, 1979 he was laid to rest next to his son.
Many family members re-iterated the same sentiments, that after his mother died, Elvis changed for he never had time alone to grieve. As Fike recalls, “He carried his mother’s nightgown around for weeks… Wouldn’t put it down for anything. Slept with it and cried all the time… He didn’t seem like Elvis ever again.” Four week after Gladys died, Elvis was sailed to Germany. Elvis Jewish Heritage