Troy Gentry’s widow was determined to keep the spirit of her beloved husband alive.
The 50-year-old, who was half of the award-winning country music duo Montgomery Gentry, was killed hours before the band was set to hit the stage in 2017. The helicopter carrying Gentry crashed in a wooded area near the Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey.
People Magazine reported Friday that as Angie was attempting to absorb the horrifying news, one thought came to her mind: donating her husband’s organs to those in need.
“If this is your time and God says, ‘I’m taking you home today,’ but other parts of you still work perfectly well that could help somebody else, why would you not donate them?” said the 52-year-old. “You don’t throw something away that’s perfect. It was something I felt Troy would have said: ‘Do it.’”
While Angie was in a state a shock, she did reach out to New Jersey hospital officials from her Nashville home. Angie learned that while Gentry’s organs weren’t viable for a transplant because of his injuries, his bones, tissue and corneas were all worthy candidates.
The magazine added that to complete the process, Angie composed herself and spent over an hour on the phone answering questions about the medical history of her husband of 18 years.
“I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want to make a donation because what’s it going to hurt?” said Angie, adding her sister is a kidney transplant recipient.
“And it’s going to help somebody,” she added.
But Angie wasn’t done with her work. In 2018, she and the couple’s close friends came up with an idea of a foundation honoring Gentry’s legacy. The group formed the nonprofit Troy Gentry Foundation, which focuses on cancer research, military assistance and music education.
Montgomery Gentry was known for performing at military outposts in support of the troops and were advocators of music education. Angie also successfully battled breast cancer in 2015.
Last year, the foundation raised over $100,000 in a benefit golf tournament. On Wednesday, an all-star lineup featuring Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley performed at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House for a sold-out concert. Angie said she reached for her husband’s phone directory and called the numbers he’d file away. First on the list was Shelton, 42.
“We were at the same management company back in the very beginning when they both had mullets and nobody knew who they were,” she explained. “There was that tall, skinny Blake with that long, crazy hair. There’s Troy, tall and skinny with that crazy-looking hair. Blake said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it. What do you need?’ … Almost everybody said yes.”
Keith Urban, who attended Gentry’s funeral, was out of town and sent his regrets.
But the benefit concert went on and raised more than $300,000.
“I get so excited because it’s a great thing we’re doing,” Angie explained. “And then sometimes it kicks you in the face about why it’s happening, and that sets you back a little bit. You want to do great things. You want to keep the legacy and the memory alive, but you hate why you have to do it.”
Angie added the foundation anticipates making the concert an annual event. She also looks forward to eventually meeting some of the people who received Gentry’s bone and tissue donations. The Gift of Life Donor Program, the Philadelphia-based organization that managed the donation, facilitates meetings between donor families and recipients.
“It will be neat to just give them a hug and say I’m glad I could help,” said Angie.