Wilma Maples at the 75th Anniversary Celebration of
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2009. Image by Kinnie Riffey
By Jeaneane Payne
One of Gatlinburg's greatest ladies dies: Wilma Maples, 88, of Gatlinburg TN died on Friday, December 20, 2011. Mrs. Maples was loved by everyone.
Wilma Maples and her husband, the late R. L. (Rellie) Maples ran the world-renowned Gatlinburg Inn located on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. The inn was constructed
by R. L. (Rellie) Maples, Sr., son of David Crockett and Cora Ogle Maples between 1937 and 1940. Gatlinburg's city offices were located at the inn from 1946-1947 and Gatlinburg's first large press newspaper also started at the inn.
"Lady Bird" Johnson, Liberace, Dinah Shore, J.C.Penney, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Melville Bell Grosvenor (former editor of National Geographic Magazine) were among its many guests and the Inn appeared in Ingrid Bergman's movie, A Walk in the Spring Rain.
The State Song of Tennessee, "Rocky Top," was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in room 388.
The Maples were prominent citizens of Gatlinburg and were some of the town's wealthiest people.
They made many contributions to the community and to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.