A bus arrived in heaven today carrying the clear, perfect pitch, tenor voice of Fred Daniel. Imagining all those awaiting the arrival of that bus brings comfort to those who saw him off on his trip. Fred was greeted by his parents John and Alice Daniel. He grew up in Porterdale, the youngest of 12 children. He was then reunited with his wife Hilda Dial Daniel. He once said about his wife of 64 years, "She has been by my side for a long time. My wife raised my children because I was on the road. It has been a good life - she has been good for me." Mrs. Daniel made the journey one month prior to Fred. She has been making preparations in heaven for Fred's next performance. They are now by each other's side for eternity.
Wallace "Happy" Edwards may have been next in the receiving line. Happy and Fred sang on the front steps of the Porterdale Methodist Church as kinds. Later, they formed The Happy Four and continued singing together. Burl Strevel and Ace Richman also were waiting with open arms wanting to know the next tour dates. Red Foley eagerly waited with the guys so that they could have a reunion singing of "Peace in the Valley," now that they could truly appreciate what that song meant. "Peace in the Valley" by Red Foley and The Sunshine Boys was the first gospel record to sell over one million copies. J.D. Sumner and Elvis Presley were also waiting to sing around a piano with the "fat boy" who could jump so high.
Those waiting to catch a later bus are his sister Rosie Bailey; sons Gary and Scott with their wives Bobbie and Sheila; grandchildren Dana, David, Chase and Kyle; great-grandchildren Trevor, Colin, Samantha and anxiously awaited Baby Daniel (Chase).
Along Fred's earthly journey, he spent time as a Gunners First Mate, 3rd Class, in the U.S. Navy. He served for two years in the South Pacific during World War II. On his return from service, it was right back to gospel singing. Fred spend three years with The Happy Four, 16 years with The Sunshine Boys and 12 years with The Blue Ridge Quartet. During his professional singing career, he recorded over 3,000 songs. As part of The Sunshine Boys, Fred appeared in 19 western movies and in "The Durango Kid" series with Smiley Burnett. Some of the songs he sang and collaborated on during these filmings were "Cool Water" and "Tumbleweed." In 2005 he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame as part of The Sunshine Boys. Other accolades included being inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, receiving the Pioneer Gospel Music Award and being honored as a Gospel Music Living Legend.
Fred turned from professional singing to professional sales later in life and worked as district, regional and divisional sales manager for Mutual of Omaha. His kind personality and incredible work ethic served him well in both careers. More recently, Fred and Hilda had retired to Covington to be close to family and friends. Fred was always eager for a reunion show with Ed Wallace and Kenny Gates. He said his greatest joy was when he was in front of people singing - "That's when I felt I was at my best."
Mr. Daniel died Nov. 6. The family will receive friends at Wheeler Funeral Home Sunday, Nov. 11, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. A memorial service will follow in the chapel at 3 p.m. with the Rev. John Ozley and the Rev. Jim Moore officiating.