Business Consultant and life-long Elvis Presley fan Lacy Robinson attended Lisa Marie Presley’s memorial service in Memphis, TN at the Graceland Mansion. Team member Michaela O’Leary sat down with Lacy to share her experience of attending this special event.
You’ve mentioned you were a lifelong Elvis fan..Can you expand a little more on that?
For as long as I can remember I have been an Elvis Presley fan. I share this passion with my best friend, Lauren. We bonded over Elvis in elementary school and he truly is the foundation of our friendship. 30 years ago, Lauren and I hosted an Elvis memorial at a local park. I had cups, plates, and napkins with Johnson Funeral Home printed on them which were left over from my grandfather’s funeral. We marked out Johnson and Home wrote Elvis before Funeral. Honoring the life and legacy of Elvis was something we were always into. Both of us have been to Graceland multiple times throughout our lives and this was our first time going together.
What can you tell us about Lisa Marie’s legacy and the legacy she left on Memphis?
Following the life of Elvis natural led to following the life of Lisa Marie. For Elvis fans its more than his music. Lisa Marie was a fierce protector of her father’s legacy. Her desire to stay connected to fans is her legacy. In the days following her death I read an Instagram post from David Kessler’s, who had been helping Lisa Marie through her grief after her son’s death. Kessler shared that Lisa Marie opened her home to other bereaved parents to co-lead grief support meetings. Lisa Marie never shied away from connecting with people on a deeply personal level when the opportunity was presented.
What service highlights stood out to you the most?
Walking up to Graceland and taking our place on the front Lauren and I knew this was going to be a memorable tribute. Elvis hymns played during the two hours leading up to the memorial starting and the entire time we were in the procession for Mediation Garden. The performances of Jason Clark & The Tennessee Mass Choir and The Blackwood Brothers Quartet were outstanding. I really appreciated Billy Blackwood recalling the time when Elvis introduced his baby girl Lisa Marie to both him and his father, James Blackwood, Sr.. He also shared that his father sang at the funeral for Elvis’ mother Gladys and the quartet performed at Elvis’ funeral. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet was truly honored to perform Elvis’ favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art” and “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” at Lisa Marie’s service.
Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis’ closest friends and confidant to Lisa Marie, delivered a beautiful eulogy. He shared details about Lisa Marie being the first baby he had ever held and his nickname for Lisa Marie was “Memphis”. The poem written by one of Lisa Marie’s twin daughters was read by Priscilla Presley. It was poignant and heartbreaking. Priscilla’s final words were, “But the old soul is always with me. She doesn’t drift above.’ That says it all and thank you all for being here. Our heart is broken. Lisa, we all love you.” The letter written by Lisa Marie’s daughter Riley which was read by her husband, Ben-Smith-Peterson was incredibly moving. In it Riley wrote, “I hope I can love my daughter the way you loved me, the way you loved my brother and my sisters”. That was the first time it was made public that Lisa Marie was a grandmother. It was a very stirring moment during the memorial.
How did the service differ from other services you’ve attended?
I had this same conversation with Ed Defort of NFDA because there were noticeable differences that him and I picked up on. There was a depth to the service that was certainly unique. The combination of live performances, poems, a letter, and eulogies gave the entire tribute layers. There was seamless flow to the order of service. I especially like the Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York message was titled “A Tribute to the Children”. Speaking directly to Lisa Marie’s children offering hope and support was one of the most special parts of the service.
Where did you stay when you traveled to the service? Did the place you stayed do anything special for the service?
Lauren and I decided to make the drive down to Memphis the minute memorial plans were made public. I immediately clicked on my Marriott app to secure a room at the Courtyard Marriot less than three miles from Graceland. The location of the Courtyard Marriot was perfect. But it was the hospitality from this hotel that impressed me the most. There was a beautifully written tribute from the general manager honoring the life of Lisa Marie with an invitation to have peanut butter banana sandwiches and wine in the lobby. The hotel also offered a complimentary shuttle to and from Graceland for guests. It was evident that the city of Memphis truly loved and cared about Lisa Marie. I left a glowing review for this hotel when I returned home. The General Manager emailed me after reading the review and acknowledging Lisa Marie’s service and thanked me for choosing that hotel.
Any additional comments/ takeaways from the service?
NBC Nightly News approached me for an interview. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts about Lisa Marie. Of course the journalist who asked me had no idea my connection to the funeral profession and the value I place on end-of-life tributes, but I hope the Presley family felt the love and support from everyone in attendance.
I remember on Sunday, while standing in line at 5:30AM with thousands of people, feeling very appreciative and grateful. Lisa Marie’s family could have decided not to have a public memorial. For them to plan a beautiful tribute on the front lawn of Graceland and invite the general public meant a lot to everyone. It was an event we will never forget. It was truly an event that demonstrated the value for funeral traditions is still very much alive.