Roni Stoneman Obituary

Roni, born Veronica Loretta Stoneman, on May 5, 1938, was the second youngest of Ernest “Pop” and Hattie Stoneman’s 23 children. The family was living in the Washington D.C. area and the home was full of pickers and singers.

Roni was born to break the mold and she accomplished that in many ways. She overcame adversity many times in her life of 85 years, just to rise above every situation she faced. She earned every right to be called “The First Lady of Banjo”, a title bestowed to her by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Roni was both a pioneer and legend in bluegrass and country music. It all began when she picked up her brother Scotty’s banjo and started to play. Pop Stoneman, Roni’s father, made her first banjo.

Roni began her singing career at the age of nine on stage at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. and continued her entertaining career performing with the Stoneman Family band also consisting of Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, Hattie Frost Stoneman, and usually Patsy, Donna, Jimmy, Van, and Scotty.

The folk music resurgence of the 1950s and 1960 created a demand for the Stoneman’s kind of music and for several years they enjoyed a popularity that put them on the most prestigious stages in the country and brought wide-spread exposure with their TV show “The Stoneman Family Show” and recording contracts. In 1967 The Stoneman’s were voted Top Vocal Group by the Country Music Association. After Pop’s death in 1968, Roni, Patsy, Donna, Van and Jimmy would keep the family group going. As a family performing country music, their longevity is unequaled. To date, the Stoneman Family music is still being performed and enjoyed. In 2021, the Stoneman Family were inducted into The Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In the late 50’s, Roni was a teenager and became the first woman ever recorded playing three finger style on the five string banjo as recognized at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. The record came out in 1957 with Roni playing “Lonesome Road Blues”, the only woman on the record, she fast became known as “The First Lady of Banjo”.

In 1971, Roni quit the family band to pursue her dreams; and she refers to it in her book as “starting over”. Roni worked in Printers Alley and also signed on with Buddy Lee Attractions, a talent agency. At a party given by Buddy Lee, Tom T. Hall introduced Roni to Sam Lovello, the producer of Hee Haw. Sam told Roni “We need a character actress”. Roni was cast as Ida Lee Nagger, the mountain woman at the ironing board. Roni also played the part of the hotel maid, Mophead and sometimes she was Roni in pigtails and playing the banjo.

Roni joined the cast of Hee Haw from 1973 until 1990. We all fell in love with the character Ida Lee, as Roni put her comedic spin on every episode. Roni displays her musical talent on the Hee Haw show along-side Grandpa Jones, Roy Clark and Buck Trent. She paved the way as a true pioneer for women in what was known at the time as a man’s world.

Roni could play banjo like a man, but she has been called the “Queen of the Banjo”. She has referred to herself as “Star of Stage, Screen, TV and Truck-Stops.”

Roni Stoneman was a cast member on the Merlin Gene Show, playing Hattie Mae, Merlin’s wife, and was a featured artist for over 26 episodes of the Merlin Gene Show. The show was designed to be a similar entertainment style to “Hee Haw”. Roni was the perfect ingredient to lend her “one of a kind” personality and humor.

Through her later years, Roni would continue to enjoy her wide-spread fame singing, picking and sharing her humor and life stories at the world famous Nashville Palace and John A’s, both located in her hometown of Nashville. She also enjoyed sharing her talent and humor many times on this very stage of the Texas Troubadour.

Roni was skilled on many instruments, not sure if there was a string instrument she couldn’t play. She loved playing the banjo and would continue to play shows all of her life with a heavy banjo strapped around her neck. She sang and entertained the crowds that loved her bluegrass music and comedy.

As much as Roni loved music, she had another love. She loved people, Roni never met a stranger. She would have you laughing in only a sentence or two, or have you clapping your hands and clogging, if you knew how.
Roni’s love for others would find her volunteering her time and talents to help raise much needed money for numerous organizations, one being The Family Center benefiting abused and neglected children in Murfreesboro and Davidson County. Roni only missed one year of working this benefit by the Murfreesboro Exchange Club due to a prior engagement.

Another organization Roni was passionate about was Nashville’s Cowboy Church. Roni was also invited numerous times to host the World Famous Midnight Jamboree, a radio program that has aired on WSM in Nashville since 1947.

Roni was a lifetime member of the organization started by Gordon Terry in 1983 called R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers). In 2014, Roni received the Musician of the Year award from R.O.P.E. and in 2022 she received the Entertainer of the Year award.

In 2007, Roni’s book “Pressing On” was released, a biography that encompassed her childhood, music career, marriages and more as told to Helen Wright.

Roni Stoneman with her charm, humor and musical talent will be missed, but her love and faith in Jesus certainly has secured her a seat in Heaven playing her banjo and praising God. Go rest high on that mountain, for your work on earth is done.

Roni is survived by her sister, Donna Stoneman and her children Eugene Cox and spouse Angela, Rebecca Fisher, Barbara Cox, Robert Cox, Georgia Hemrick and spouse Craig Core. Grandchildren Lucas, Dustin and Matthew Cox, Stephen and Michael Benton, Virginia Bolden and 10 great-grandchildren.

Roni touched the hearts of everyone she met and truly was an example of a life well lived. To quote Matthew 25:21, “Well done, my faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your Masters happiness”. Rest in peace, my friend.

A Celebration of Life will be held from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM Sunday, March 24, 2024, at the Texas Troubadour, 2416 Music Valley Drive, Nashville, TN 37214.

An online guestbook for the Stoneman family is available at

Woodfin Memorial Chapel. (615) 893-5151.

Roni Stoneman

Edit Post

Welcome to This site was designed to help foster communication between the residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Whether you're looking for news, events, jobs, etc. you can find it all right here on

Related Articles

Back to top button