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Troy Gentry from the band Montgomery Gentry died when the helicopter he was in crashed at the Flying W Airport. The band confirmed his death via social media on Friday afternoon.
USA TODAY

Troy Gentry’s family filed into the Grand Ole Opry House in front of a room filled with music industry veterans and fans. Batman signals were beamed onto the walls and personal photos and videos of Gentry with his family and of his career in country music’s Montgomery Gentry rotated across the Opry’s large screens.

Country music’s best-known singers including Keith Urban, Travis Tritt, Randy Owen, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and Michael Ray waited to hug Gentry’s duo partner Eddie Montgomery.

While Gentry was part of the award-winning country duo Montgomery Gentry, the celebration of his life at the Grand Ole Opry House Thursday didn’t echo his career achievements. The emotional service celebrated the man he had become. 

“One of the most frustrating things is that this is the best Troy we had ever seen,” said Brentwood Baptist senior pastor Dr. Michael Glenn. Gentry was a member of Glenn’s congregation and a close friend. “His music was better, his songwriting was better … and then the phone rang. ‘It’s Troy … there was a helicopter accident.’ It’s like walking on a landmine – boom, click the world is changed.”

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More: Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry killed in helicopter crash

Gentry was killed Friday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed hours before a show the duo was set to play in Medford, N.J. The singer was 50.

At the request of Gentry’s wife Angie, Little Big Town started his service with a spiritual version of The Star-Spangled Banner. As the group’s famous harmonies filled the room, member Kimberly Schlapman quickly wiped away a tear.

With his family up front, the Opry House full of fans, his casket on the stage’s famous circle and the national anthem ringing through the rafters — the first few minutes of Gentry’s ceremony encapsulated all that was most important to him — God, family, patriotism and country music.

More: Troy Gentry: A life of triumph and tragedy