Despite their financial issues, he was never lacking when it comes to supporting Dolly’s career in music. Dolly once revealed how her father would take “a bucket of soapy water in the back of his pick-up truck” at night to clean the statue of Parton that had been put up in her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. He is even proudly sporting a “Dolly Parton for President” sticker on his truck’s bumper.
So, it was no longer a surprise when Robert inspired a number of Dolly’s songs – this includes “Daddy’s Working Boots” and “The Dinner Bucket.” But the best part was how Robert inspired Dolly to launch the Imagination Library, a nonprofit organization that provides free books to children.
Robert Lee Parton never had a chance to go to school because he had to help his parents make a living for the family. He never learned how to read and write – and this has always been a source of humiliation and frustration for him.
So, Dolly decided to do something special about it by getting him involved in helping her with the Imagination Library. The singer believes telling her father’s story would help other people not to feel embarrassed about their situations. And as Dolly hoped for, Robert took pride in being a part of the organization. In fact, he loved it whenever children would refer to Dolly as “The Book Lady.”
Indeed, we have Robert to thank for, as thousands of children can now enjoy literature from a young age no matter what their financial background is. We’re sure Dolly Parton’s siblings are so proud of him!
Robert Lee Parton died in 2000 at the age of 79 at the Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee in Knoxville. He passed away of complications after suffering a number of strokes in the weeks that led to his passing.