- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - There’s no doubt that 83-year-old Paul Eckhart is a loyal Grand Ole Opry fan: He has not missed a weekend performance in 42 years.

His dedication has earned him a designated parking space backstage, a plaque on the stage front pew where he sits, and close friendships with numerous country artists.

But Eckhart has announced he will retire this weekend. Now the Opry is planning to honor him. They will take time out of the show Saturday weekend to recognize him.

Eckhart, a retired certified public accountant, began attending Opry shows in late June of 1972.

Eckhart started going to the Opry on Fridays and switched to Saturdays about 15 years ago.

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