The late Bill Hefner among 2010 Hall of Fame Southern Gospel Hall of Fame Inductees

The late U.S. Representative Bill Hefner (1930-2009) was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame at Dollywood recently in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“Bill Hefner was always a favorite at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion, serving most often as emcee for the concerts for 12 years,” said executive director Charlie Waller. “He was a recipient of the GOGR Living Legend Award in 1998. His final concert appearance was at the 2009 Grand Ole Gospel Reunion.”
He was born in Elora, Tenn. He grew up in Sardis, Ala., and following his graduation from Sardis High School, attended the University of Alabama.
Hefner became tenor for the Crusaders Quartet of Birmingham, Ala. in 1953, joining Herschel Wooten, Bervin Kendrick, Buddy Parker, and Dickie Matthews. The following year, Hefner, Wooten, and Parker formed the Harvesters Quartet in Charlotte, N.C., Waller said.
“The quartet enjoyed immense popularity from 1954 until their retirement in 1967, appearing on numerous national and North Carolina TV channels,” Waller said. “Bill became best known for his comedy, first-class emcee work, and his performance of the song ‘He’ll Pilot Me.’ Bill continued promoting gospel music for many years in North Carolina following the disbandment of the Harvesters.”
He was elected to the 94th United States Congress in 1974, where he served 12 terms, from January 3, 1975 through January 3, 1999, before retiring.
Waller said the congressman built a reputation as an advocate for military veterans, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina, was renamed in his honor in 1999.
Legacy Five performed in Hefner’s honor.
Attending was Hefner’s widow Nancy of Guntersville, Ala., his sister Louise Hibbs, his brother Jimmy Hefner, tenor singer for Southmen Quartet; and his grandchildren Joseph Hawk and Parker Rose.
Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Les Beasley presented the induction.
His daughter Stayce Hefner accepted on his behalf reflecting on the individuals that could have met her late father.
“If you are one of the fortunate, you realize what an enriching experience, you will never forget,” she said. “Having accomplished so much in a short 79 years, Dad will continue through his music, his sense of humor, his humanity, he will reign among the greats. I am sure could he have been here this night, he would truly appreciate this honor.
“The truth is about my daddy is after every performance, any tribute, any song, the ultimate and most important tribute for him was ‘Nancy, How did I do?’ ‘Wonderful as always,’ (she’d reply).”
The other 2010 SGMA class of Hall of Fame inductees are Danny Gaither, Little Jan Buckner-Goff, and Sam Goodman, Connie Hopper and Arthur Smith.
Country Music Hall of Famer Dolly Parton received the James D. Vaughn Impact Award at the event.
The Southern Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring this genre of music, for the historic preservation of the accomplishments of the music and its people. Museum hours match those of Dollywood. Donations are tax-deductible. Individuals and businesses may donate to assist with honoring inductees with special bronze plaques that are displayed in the Hall of Fame. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit