Remembering Gladys Presley...

The memory we keep of Gladys Presley is one of a loving and protective mother to her only surviving son, Elvis. A devoted wife, an endearing, understanding, and com-passionate lady, and a good Christian woman. She was all of these things and more. Born on April 25, 1912, we remember that 50 years ago, on August 14, 1958, Gladys untimely passing broke her son's world to pieces and shattered all of his future dreams of making his beloved mama's life more gifted and comfortable. The void Glady's passing left inside her son would never mend or be whole again, not within himself, not with family, friends, or even the single child that was born to him whom he loved as dearly.

Elvis was not a poetry reader, however, upon being offered by a friend a book of poems to read following his mother's death, Elvis scanned through the pages of "Poems That Touch The Heart," and stumbled upon this beautiful poem written by Albert K. Rowswell, and which he began to read aloud:

Should You Go First

Should you go first and I remain
To walk the road alone,
I'll live in memory's garden, dear,
With happy days we've known.

In spring I'll wait for roses red,
When fades the Lilac blue;
In early fall when brown leaves call,
I'll catch a glimpse of you.

remembers Gladys Smith Presley.

(above)Robert Lee Smith and Octavia Luvenia 'Doll' Mansell, parents of Gladys Love Smith

Gladys sister, Lillian Fortenberry, in a photo taken after Elvis' death, 1977. She was 78 years old. Mrs. Fortenberry's only daughter, Bobbie Jane, died young. She and Elvis were like sister and brother as children where Lillian took in young Elvis many a day. As Gladys was dying, her sister remained attentive to her during her final days. The Fortenberry family is an allied family of not only the Smith clan but of the Presley clan. Kin founder, Barbara Lee, is also of the Fortenberry line connecting to the Presley and Helms family. from NC. Henry, Isaac, and Jacob Falkenburg moved to SC during the American Revolution and changed the spelling of the name to "Fortenberry." Their descendants continued to head southward.

photo courtesy of Julian Riley and Elvis Presley's
Every year in Verona, MS, there is a fair, The Tupelo Festival, put together by Julian Riley, owner and proprietor of the Verona town hall complex and museum, starting at the very same building where Gladys Love Smith and Vernon Presley were married on
17 June 1933, the Lee County Town Hall, oldest building in Lee County. Gladys and Vernon had eloped as neither family had approved of this marriage.

Each year a couple reinacts the wedding of Gladys and Vernon and in the photo is this year's portrayor of Gladys along with a Mansell/ Smith cousin, little Charles Aron Pruette, grandson of Elbert S. and Mary Etta Smith of Memphis. Mary is of the Mansell/Smith family. Her grandparents were Mary Mansell and Albert Smith. Some members of the Presley, Mansell, and Hood families are often in town attending this celebration and memorial tribute to Elvis' roots. An interesting story involving Gladys and Vernon's marriage certificate: Elvis found it an altered the names to read Elvis Presley and Magdalene Morgan. Morgan was Elvis' first girlfriend. The Morgan family is connected to the Presley line as well, by several Presley/Morgan intermarriages including a sister of Vernon who married a Morgan.

Gladys Love Smith Presley

The marker for Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis' twin, is placed in honor at Graceland®.

~ Their Legacy lives forever ~

Elvis kisses his beloved mama good bye at the induction center. From this day forward Gladys was never the same and her health began to take a downward turn. She would die before Elvis' tenure in the US Army was completed. While Elvis was still a soldier he attended his mother's funeral on August 18, 1958, the same day 21 years later when his own funeral took place in the same cemetery, Forest Hills in Memphis. It is here where the ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of Glady's death will be held. The wake was held over because Elvis would not let his mother go. At the cemetery service below, Elvis had to be restrained as he threw himself atop the coffin as it was going to ground.

"Look after my boy." - Gladys Love Smith Presley

The tomb where Gladys was originally laid to rest in Forest Hills
Cemetery was marked with this beautiful statue that now rests in the meditation garden at Graceland® Below is Gladys' grave in Gracelands® meditation garden.


Gladys never wanted her son to become famous as she feared he would be taken away from her completely. She could not deal with his almost instantaneous success but never lived to see him come full circle. Elvis said he did it for her, and when she died, everything he had, he said, was gone.

Photos from personal family photos and news clippings.

The following You Tube Video of Gladys' interview was sent to us by an unknown source and as we wish to give proper credit, until such time as we know who the contributor is, we can only credit Gladys for enabling this to happen. God Bless.

Gladys and Vernon Presley Interveiw. Hear Glady's actual sweet voice.

Photo of the bedroom at Graceland®
that Elvis prepared for
Gladys and Vernon

Graceland® is a registered trademark


The Kin of Rock and Roll © 2006. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Elvis®, Elvis Presley®, and Graceland® are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
However, Presley family members reserve the right to use the Presley name and family photos
without permission required.