As new student orientation wrapped up its penultimate sessions this week, an incoming freshman’s father stopped by the Digital Collections table and asked me if I’d ever heard of Grady Nutt. I admitted that the name didn’t ring a bell, and he said, “Didn’t you ever watch Hee Haw?” That led us to a long conversation about a fascinating Baylor connection to one of the show’s popular (and tragically short-lived) players, Rev. Grady Nutt.
Texas Roots, Baylor Graduate
According to Nutt’s Wikpedia entry, he was born in Amarillo and briefly attended another college before transferring to Baylor, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in 1957. He became a licensed Baptist minister by the age of 13 and, following his Baylor graduation, served as youth minister at First Baptist Church of Waco.
Nutt’s time at Baylor was spent performing, as both a member of a campus singing group called the Troubadours and as a Yell Leader, a spirit squad that supports Baylor athletics teams.
A Promising Career Cut Short
Nutt became a sought-after public speaker and entertainer, with early appearances on The Mike Douglas Show, which led to his eventual casting on Hee Haw, beginning in 1979. In his role as Kornfield Kountry’s “Prime Minister of Humor,” Nutt was given 90-120 seconds to tell a humorous routine to a group of listeners gathered around to hear his homespun wisdom. Largely improvised, these sketches drew from Nutt’s life as a pastor and Southern native. Here, he tells a joke about a young boy’s eye-opening visit to a cemetery.
Nutt’s career – and life – ended at the age of 48 when a plane he was riding in crashed shortly after takeoff on November 23, 1982. The Baylor community honored his legacy by establishing the Grady Nutt Memorial Award just two weeks later. The award was created to honor “a student entertainer or student entertainment group that best exemplifies the spirit of the late Grady Nutt.”
Nutt has been remembered as a positive person whose attitude and outlook on life helped people see the good in the world. His story, especially its ties to Baylor, is just one of the countless examples of Baylor Bears who go on to lead lives of positive impact on the world. And while they won’t all go on to perform on the small screen or have an award created in their honor, they share a common commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, a belief we’re sure Rev. Nutt would wholeheartedly endorse.
For more information on Grady Nutt, visit The Official Page of Grady Nutt.