Bonnie Brown: Star of the Grand Ole Opry, but a mom to us

- Our FOX 13 family is mourning the loss of Kelly Ring's mother, Bonnie, who died of cancer last week at the age of 77. She was a star of the Grand Ole Opry, but her family came first.

Bonnie was in a singing trio with her older siblings, Jim Ed and Maxine. They were known as The Browns. In 1959 their huge hit "The Three Bells" went to number one on both the country and pop music charts. They even toured with Elvis. 

But Bonnie traded life on the road to spend time at home with her children.


The oldest, Kelly, would find her voice in the news business. In the mid 1980's she came to Tampa for a job interview at WTVT.  She had help.

"Along with Kelly came Bonnie," recalled former WTVT news director Jim West.  "Bonnie came to her job interview, but in reality I think I'm the one who was being interviewed, not Kelly." 

West says Bonnie wanted to make sure that Kelly would have a wonderful home at WTVT.


Bonnie was always dedicated to her family. She and her husband, Dr. "Brownie" Ring loved their home in Arkansas. Bonnie's brother, Jim Ed, became one of the most beloved figures at the Grand Ole Opry and at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Kelly visited with him there last February shortly after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Jim Ed died last June. Bonnie's death comes just a year later.


Millions remember Bonnie as a great singer, but at WTVT she's remembered as the momma bear who came to see that Kelly would find a home.

"I guess we passed muster, because we've enjoyed Kelly Ring ever since," smiled West.

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