Grand Ole Opry star Charlie Walker died Friday morning, September 12, in Hendersonville, Tenn. The 81-year-old country legend had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Born in Copeville, Texas in 1926, Walker began singing while in high school, and played country music during World War II over the Armed Forces Radio Network as part of the Eighth Army Signal Corps occupation forces in Tokyo. Stateside, he relocated to San Antonio in 1951, and became one of the nation's Top 10 country-music disc jockeys.

Walker scored his biggest hit single in 1958 with 'Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,' which was penned by Harlan Howard and reached the No. 2 spot on the charts. So influential was the song that Martina McBride recorded it for her 2005 album, 'Timeless.' Walker became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, the same year he scored another Top 10 hit with 'Don't Squeeze My Sharmon.'

Walker is survived by his wife Connie as well as 10 children: Ronnie, Cindy, Arthur, Charlie III, Elissa, Charlene, Catherine, Christina, Caroline, and Charlton; 15 grandchildren; 3 step-grandchildren; and 1 great-grandchild.

"The Grand Ole Opry family will miss our friend and Opry member, Charlie Walker," said Pete Fisher, Opry vice president and general manager. "We are truly grateful for all of the musical moments he has shared with us on the Opry stage and over the airwaves as a disc jockey. We will dedicate this weekend's Opry shows to his memory."