Loretta Lynn Was Sure 'Only God' Could Take Her Kids & Felt Inner 'Forewarning' about Her Son's Passing

Titi Dokubo
Apr 19, 2022
12:30 P.M.
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Loretta Lynn was married as a teenager, and not long after her wedding, she became pregnant with her first child. While she knew her husband wanted a boy, and they had already picked out a name, she gave birth to a daughter.


A few years later, the couple welcomed their son, Jack Benny. As her son grew, he fell in love with riding horses, and she became scared because she thought that was a forewarning.

On the same day, Loretta Lynn lost her son; she had a seizure about the same time he died. Here is a look into Loretta Lynn's life, how she dealt with the loss of her son, and the other children she had.

Loretta Lynn in an interview with Today [left], Photo of Betty Sue and Jack Benny as kids [right] | Sources:,


On January 10, 1948, Loretta was still a teenager when she married 21-year-old Oliver Vanetta Lynn, whose nicknames were "Mooney" and "Doolittle." Despite marrying at a young age, their marriage became the defining relationship of her life.

Four months into their marriage, Loretta fell pregnant at 14. She knew that her husband wanted this baby to be a boy, and they had already picked out Jack as his name.

Portrait of Loretta Lynn circa 1960 | Sources: Getty Images


However, things happened differently. Loretta went into labor at 11:30 p.m. but did not get to the hospital until an hour later. When she arrived, the baby was not ready to come out, so she was in labor for 27 hours.

Eventually, they put her under anesthesia using a mask over her head, and she felt like she was falling down a well. She did not know what happened until she heard the baby crying.

When Loretta started delivering, she thought she would die. She was too small in her bones to deliver a nine-month baby and had to take time to stretch. The hospital also told her that she was lucky her baby stayed for up to nine months.


Loretta Lynn and her husband Oliver Vanetta "Doolittle" Lynn at a soiree in circa 1976 | Sources: Getty Images

Even when she heard her baby crying, Loretta was unsure if she had a boy or a girl. Being under the effect of the anesthesia, Loretta told the nurse that it was a boy, but the nurse corrected her to inform her that she had a girl.


Realizing the nurse knew better, she started crying. Her husband told her he was glad it was a girl, but Loretta knew he was not. That's how their first child—daughter Betty Sue—was born at five pounds and 16 inches.

Their baby was the shortest baby that the hospital ever had, and they kept her in the hospital for a week. A year later, Loretta had her second baby.

Loretta Lynn on season 13 of "Watch What Happens Live" | Sources: Getty Images



On December 7, 1949, Loretta welcomed her son, Jack Benny. The couple did not name their son after Loretta's favorite comedian, who bore the same name, but because she and her husband liked them. 

When Jack was born, Loretta's family did not have enough money and could not afford for her to stay overnight at the hospital, so she went back home just five hours after giving birth. 

Jack never liked to be called by his middle name and never wanted people to know his middle name. But Loretta called him both names when she wanted him to get mad.


When Jack was only five, the Green brothers, whom Loretta lived with, offered to adopt him. She knew they could give her son a better life, as her family was not financially stable then. However, she said:

"But they could have never given Jack as much love, and besides, nothing could make me permanently part with one of my children, then or now. Only God could."



Jack did not have a singing or songwriting talent. However, he was passionate about riding horses. He loved rodeo and did that for most of his life.

He started out trying to be a jockey, raced in Tennessee, and got too big, so he moved on to rodeo riding. Jack rode bulls, broncs, and more, but Loretta was never happy because it scared her. She said,

"Maybe I had forewarning about Jack and horses, because in the end, my fears about Jack and horses was right."



In 1984, Loretta was on a concert tour, and after her last concert, she felt exhausted. After she went to bed, her friend and office manager, Lorene Allen, who was sharing the bed, noticed Loretta was breathing funny.

Allen called the driver, and they rushed her to the hospital. Luckily, a seizure specialist was around that late, as Loretta stopped breathing three times while at the hospital.


Allen called Doolittle, Loretta's husband, and he said he could not be with them immediately at the hospital because he was scared as Jack never returned from his horseback ride.

Doolittle, workers, searchers, and their other children went out looking for Jack, but it took them three days to find him, and he had died from drowning.


Doolittle called Allen back with the news and informed her of the time of Jack's death. Allen was shocked to learn of the time, and Loretta said:

"The time of Jack's death was the same time I had gone through my seizure. I firmly believe the two were related. Somehow I knew he was gone."

Doolittle asked Allen not to inform Loretta as he would do so himself and in person. When Allen told Loretta that her husband was on his way, she was confused as she did not understand that her tour was over and she was sick.



When Loretta saw her husband in the hospital, she still could not understand what had happened until he said:

"We've lost our boy."

She could not believe it and was hysterical. After she calmed down, she insisted that her husband give her the full details of their son's death.

Photo of Jack Benny Lynn | Sources: Getty Images


Loretta could not believe that her son, who won races, could fall from a horse as he was an excellent rider. She asked the driver to take them home so that she could see her son, but the hospital had arranged a plane for them.

"I still miss Jack every day."

The doctor flew with them to Nashville, but they refused to let her go home or see Jack's body. However, they told her she could attend the funeral as long as she would return to the hospital once the service was over.


Loretta decided to go to the funeral, but afterward, she could not remember anything about it, not even where they held the service because she was grieving. She said:

"I was 'out of it' simply because I was grieving so hard I didn't see or hear a thing that was happening around me."

The only thing she later remembered was the outfit she wore. Loretta said someone dressed her up in a light blue suit which she thought was white.


Her thoughts about the outfit's color made her wonder why anyone would dress her up in white for a funeral. Even though Jack was 33, Loretta knew it was not natural for a mother to bury her child. She said,

"I still miss Jack every day, but I don’t worry about him, because he is in God’s hands." 



Loretta had a total of six children. Her first, child Betty Sue, became Loretta's right-hand woman and helped her write several hit songs. Betty became a mom of two kids and a grandma of five.

Unfortunately, Betty, who received credits for "Wine, Women and Song," "The Home You're Tearin' Down," and "Before I'm Over You," died at 64 in July 2013 from complications from emphysema.

Loretta's third child, Clara "Cissie" Marie, was born on April 7, 1952. She has also worked with her mom many times, and in 2011, Loretta helped produce two albums with Cissie and her husband, John Beams.


Patsy Lynn and Peggy Lynn performing at "The Lynns in Concert" on April 21, 2007 | Sources: Getty Images

On May 27, 1954, Ernest Ray was born. The performer, who lives most of his life out of the spotlight, has often opened shows for his mother. The two have also performed together many times.

Loretta welcomed her twins, Peggy and Patsy, on August 6, 1964. The twins, also actresses, performed together throughout the late 1990s.

After they released their most successful hit, "Woman to Woman," in 1997, they were nominated for the Vocal Duo of the Year at the 1998 and 1999 CMA Awards.