Phyllis Boyens-Liptak died December 9, 2009 of cancer. She was a singer, an actress and a daughter of West Virginia. She was best known for playing Loretta Lynn’s mother, Clary, in the 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. (Nimrod and Phyllis are above.)
She was born February 22, 1947, in Lobata, West Virginia, to Molly and Nimrod Workman, a coal miner and a coal miner’s wife. She was one of 13 children. Nimrod Workman was a well-known singer who can be heard leading a choir in singing “Amazing Grace” in the Lynn movie. She also appeard in the Jane Fonda/Dolly Parton TV movie of the great Harriett Simpson Arnow novel, The Dollmaker.
Nimrod and Phyllis released an album in 1975 on June Appal Recordings called “Passing Through the Garden.” She released one solo album, “I Really Care,” for Rounder in 1983. She sang “Oh, Death” with Nimrod in the Academy Award winning documentary Harlan County, USA. Ralph Stanley sang the same song in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Phyllis’ version was better. The Bluegrass Blog has collected a few YouTube videos of Phyllis and Nimrod. You can get them here.