Group details plans for Redding marker, museum in Gray

Staff reportMarch 25, 2014 

Millions of music fans know Otis Redding’s songs.

Few, however, know the personal side of the soul icon.

A nascent effort underway in Jones County aims to change that.

Members of the Otis Redding Memorial Committee announced plans Tuesday for a memorial marker and a museum in Gray to honor Redding.

The marker -- almost 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide -- will stand upright outside the W.E. Knox Civic Center in downtown Gray, said Redding’s daughter, Karla Redding-Andrews. It’s scheduled for unveiling in September.

A Redding museum, located inside the center, will include some of Redding’s personal belongings -- many never seen before in public.

“It’s a huge undertaking, but it’ll be a lot of fun,” Redding-Andrews said.

It will take $15,000 to $20,000 for the marker, but organizers hope to raise more than $150,000 to help open and sustain the museum.

The project was the brainchild of bank executive Thad Childs, who approached Redding’s widow, Zelma, with the idea a year ago. She and other family members embraced it.

“I’ve had it on my mind for many, many years,” Childs said. “I’m glad we’ve got it going.”

The Reddings moved to the Jones County community of Round Oak in the mid-’60s, building the Big O Ranch on 300 acres. Redding had recorded “These Arms of Mine” and “Pain in My Heart,” and his career was taking off.

“He was hitting it big, and he wanted somewhere to come and raise a family in a peaceful atmosphere” when he wasn’t touring, Childs said. “That’s why he chose” Jones County.

Once the projects are finished, visitors will learn more about how Redding went about his days on the ranch, where he bought his cattle, his hay and the seed for his garden.

“It’s all about honoring him and remembering him for the life he led in Jones County,” said Renita Patterson, with the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.

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