Growing up poor in rural Tennessee with 11 siblings, Dolly Parton formed close-knit bonds with her family members, and they remain strong in the aftermath of her youngest brother Floyd Parton’s tragic death from lung cancer at age 61 this past December.

“Family is always priority with us,” Dolly’s sister Stella Parton once said. Stella, like songwriter Floyd, followed Dolly, 73, into the music business and has her newest album, Survivor, coming out in March. “We were there for one another as we grew up, and we’ll always be there for one another at the end,” she said of her family.

Dolly Parton Floyd Parton
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Dolly and her brother Floyd.

The Parton family has never forgotten their humble roots. “We were so disenfranchised — we were on our own as children,” Stella exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “That’s what made us strong, because we had gone to one another as things were bad and we held each other close and we held each other close. We have our differences, but we love each other more than anybody could ever tear us apart.”

At the time of Floyd’s death late last year, Dolly, Stella and their other siblings — Freida, Randy, Robert, Coy, David, Rachel, Willadeene and Cassie — publicly released a touching obituary about the star.

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Stella Parton.

“A renaissance man, Floyd was a man of many talents and areas of knowledge. He was an avid outdoorsman and had an abundant knowledge of nature as well as being an incredible cook,” Floyd’s loved ones wrote in an obituary obtained by Radar Online.

Dolly’s brother appeared in many of his famous sibling’s movies and TV shows including Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love in 2007 and 1984’s Rhinestone, which Dolly starred in alongside Sylvester Stallone. Floyd additionally wrote Dolly and singer Ricky Van Shelton’s 1991 hit song “Rockin’ Years.”

For more on the Parton family, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter!