Two Years After Glen Campbell's Death, His Widow Says It's Still 'Heart-Wrenching'
When country singer Glen Campbell died from Alzheimer’s disease on Aug. 8, 2017, his widow Kim had already begun to come to terms with the loss.
“It’s such a long, long goodbye that you’re conditioned already to accept it,” she tells PEOPLE. “But you carry around the sadness with you for so many years. The sadness lingers.”
Now, on the two-year anniversary of his death, Kim is announcing the opening of The Glen Campbell Museum in Nashville, set for next year. Yet as she begins to organize his archives and relive their life together, a sense of loss has also returned.
“When I touch his clothes and when I look at the pictures of us together, it’s heart-wrenching for me, because I miss him every single day,” she says. But there’s also a purpose behind it. Says Kim, “I feel like it’s a way to honor him, and I want to do everything I can to preserve his legacy and to share it with future generations.”
Glen was a beloved star of country music — first as a guitarist for famed studio band The Wrecking Crew in the early ’60s, then as a prolific solo performer by the late ’60s. His hits, including “Galveston” “Gentle on My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” made him a legend. His country variety show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran for four seasons on CBS beginning 1969, brought country tunes to millions of Americans.
“No one did more for country music than Glen Campbell, because when he had his TV show, he brought country music to the forefront,” notes Kim, 61. “He made the country fall in love with country music. It’s so appropriate and right that he has a presence in Nashville, which is the heart of country music.”
The museum, developed by Clearbrook Hospitality with Kim, will include everything from Glen’s flashy stage outfits and guitars to the hobbyist golfer’s club collection and his 2001 World Series ring from his partial ownership of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“There were so many great suits made for him,” Kim recalls. “I love all the crazy embroidered bell-bottomed outfits that he wore with the big belt in the ’70s. We have so much great memorabilia. It’s kind of a sexy museum if you ask me.”
The museum will also feature the “Rhinestone Stage,” an intimate performance venue aimed to draw country up-and-comers in the evenings. That’s especially important to Kim, who’s also the mother of three musicians: Cal, 36, currently performing with rock singer-songwriter Beck, Ashley, 32, who writes music and plays banjo, and Shannon, 34, part of a rock band. (Glen also had five children from three previous marriages: Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, Dillon.)
“They’re all so talented, so it’s fun to have them involved in the museum giving their input,” Kim says. “Hopefully they’ll be performing there some!”
A portion of ticket proceeds from the museum will go toward Abe’s Garden, the memory care facility where Glen lived during his final years, and the Kim & Glen Campbell Foundation, which funds music therapy efforts.
Now that Glen has been gone two years, Kim says she has found healing with the memories she shares with their children.
“He had an incredible sense of humor, and throughout our days, something will remind us, and we go, ‘If Dad were here, he would say this,'” Kim says. “So we still enjoy his sense of humor — even though he’s not here, we still hear him saying it.”
And she’ll always cherish those thoughts.
“I think about his arms around me as a loving husband and my best friend. He told me every single day how much he loved me,” she says. “He overcame so much. When I met him, he was an alcoholic and addicted to drugs. He overcame all of that and became the best father and husband I could’ve ever imagined.”