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He smoothed over rifts between the Opry and the country music industry and developed a close relationship with Nashville’s business community.Wendell became vice president of WSM and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland theme park in 1974, just as the Opry was being moved from the aging Ryman Auditorium to its present location near the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.In addition, Wendell oversaw Gaylord’s renovation of the Ryman Auditorium and the opening of the Wildhorse Saloon dance club, which helped revive a declining downtown Nashville.In 1994 Gaylord honored Wendell with the opening of the E. Wendell Building, which houses all of Gaylord Entertainment’s corporate departments. Wendell now serves as the chairman of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museums’s board of trustees.
After several transfers, he moved to the home office in Nashville in 1962. “Jack” De Witt, president of WSM, and was named manager of the Opry in April 1968.
As Opry manager, Wendell got off to a shaky start when his very first show was canceled due to the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., but Wendell soon established himself as a manager who saw the big picture of country music’s potential.