(Eddy Arnold read the following words at the funeral of Chet Atkins on July 03, 2001. The services were held at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
If I can get through this speech without completely breaking down, it will be a miracle....because I have lost a friend, a cohort, and a fellow artist in Chet Atkins. We will never see as much talent in one man again. If you ever heard of any man who could do it all, it was this man.
Chet was married to Leona for 56 years so he must have done something right. He was one of the finest record producers this or any other town will ever see and certainly one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. As a matter of fact, when we talk about who is the greatest guitar player, Chet's name is never mentioned. You take him and and just set him aside and then you argue about the rest of them.
If a man can love a man, I love Chet Atkins. I want to read a few words from the pen of Walt Whitman before we leave you today:
"Lift me close to your face till I whisper,
What you are holding is in reality no book, nor part of a book,
It is a man, flushed and full blooded - it is I - So long!
We must separate - Here! take from my lips this kiss,
Whoever you are, I give it especially to you;
So long - and I hope we shall meet again."