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Joey Martin Feek has died at age 40 after a courageous battle with cancer. The news comes just two weeks after fulfilling her dream of seeing her daughter turn two. Rory, Joey’s husband, recently shared that her pain had become worse and her health had rapidly declined. After their daughter’s birthday, Joey decided it was time to stop fighting. She said her goodbyes to her family, and shared some final words with each of them before falling asleep. Joey passed away peacefully surrounded by her family around 2:30 this afternoon (March 4). Rory shared the news on his blog, This Life I Live.
“…as we were gathered around her, holding hands and praying.. my precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side.”
Rory continues, “Though this is, and has been, a time of many tears of sorrow, it has also been a time of countless tears of joy. There have been too many beautiful moments to count or even begin to share in this blog. But I try.
“When a person has been through as much pain and struggle as Joey’s been through, you just want it to be over. You want them to not have to hurt anymore, more that you want them to stay with you. And so, it makes the hard job of saying goodbye just a little easier.”
Rory closed the blog post by saying that he and his daughters will be heading back to their Tennessee farm where Joey will be laid to rest.
Joey Martin Feek, one half of the husband/wife duo Joey+Rory, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014 shortly after the birth of the couple’s daughter, Indiana, who was born with Down syndrome.
In the summer of 2015, Joey announced that the cancer had returned and spread to her colon. A few months later the couple learned that Joey’s cancer was terminal and that they were stopping all treatment. Joey entered hospice care in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, in November.
Joey Martin grew up singing with her dad at local events in her hometown. She later joined a band that further fueled her desire to become a solo artist in Nashville. Joey eventually moved to Music City where she supported herself with a job at a veterinarian clinic while waiting for her big break.
Around 2001, Joey got a record deal with Sony. But halfway through recording her debut album, Joey met Rory Feek. The single dad of two daughters had moved to Nashville in 1995 after serving eight years in the Marines. He found success as a songwriter, a job that eventually led him to Joey. He met and married the singer within four months of meeting her.
Joey eventually put her solo dreams on hold and opened a restaurant with Rory’s sister near their Tennessee farm. However, her husband’s connections in Nashville would lead to a huge opportunity for the couple. CMT was casting for a new reality singing competition called Can You Duet?. The couple was cast and ended up placing third, gaining them a huge fan base and an endorsement deal with Overstock.com.
Their success on the show allowed Joey & Rory to do what they loved while maintaining a simple life at their farm in Tennessee.
After 13 years of marriage, the couple welcomed their daughter, Indiana Boon Feek, at the couple’s home with the assistance of a midwife and in the presence of Rory and his grown daughters. The event was captured on film and was turned into a beautiful video featuring Joey singing the Townes Van Zandt song ‘If I Needed You.’
The song was recorded for Joey & Rory’s 2014 album Country Classics: A Tapestry of Our Musical Heritage and was never released to radio or received any promotion of any kind. So, it was a shock to many when ‘If I Needed You’ received a nomination for a 2016 Grammy Award. Joey Feek had already been placed in hospice care with the nominations were announced, and Rory relived the moment he told his wife the news.
Joey Feek’s unwavering faith was an inspiration to many throughout her cancer battle. In late October, Joey & Rory issued a call for prayer and asked their fans everywhere to pray what they called “Joey’s Prayer.” The prayer read, “Pray for a miracle…and even more so, pray for peace with His decision.” Rory went on to write, “But please, one thing I ask… don’t just pray that Joey is healed. Yes, pray for a miracle. But also pray for peace in her heart, and ours, if God chooses not to let this cup pass from her sweet lips. His will, not ours.”
The couple got their answer less than two weeks later when Joey was rushed to hospital with intense pain that was caused by growth of the cancerous tumors. Hospice was arranged shortly after.
While funeral arrangements are still pending, Joey will be laid to rest in a rough-cut wooden box with a cross on it made by their long-time farm hand, Thomas, per her request. “…Thomas to make my box… simple, from wood at the farm’, she said. ‘And find a good spot in the family cemetery in the field behind our house, where we put your mama’s ashes last year… with room enough beside my headstone for you to join me someday… in God’s time,’” Rory wrote in November.
Our prayers are with Rory and the rest of Joey’s family at this time.
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