Donna Dean speaks for first time since Jimmy Dean's death

By Laura Geller - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Fans, friends and family members gathered Sunday to say farewell to Grammy winner Jimmy Dean.  Dean died one week ago in his Varina home.  In her first on camera interview since the passing of her husband, Donna Dean spoke about the overwhelming outpouring of support.

Some think of him as the country music legend, some as a film and television star, and others still as the sausage king.  Bringing their memories with them, hundreds came to the Nelsen Funeral Home in Henrico to remember Jimmy Dean.

A steady stream of mourners lasted eight hours.  They came from near and far to remember the native Texan who called Virginia home for the last two decades of his life.

Jimmy's wife Donna Dean took some time away from the receiving line to talk with us about her beloved husband, who died at the age of 81.

"I've spent the entire week planning his service because I wanted it to be befitting of him," she said.

Dean said she's realized in the days since her husband's death just how many lives he touched.

"The magnitude of the impact that Jimmy made is unbelievable," she said.  "The phone calls, the emails, the people who loved him and that have called, written cards, all of the expressions of sympathy are so overwhelming."

The mood was nostalgic as fans turned mourners shared memories.

"I always said I wanted to meet him and Donna but I didn't ever meet him and this is the closest I can come to meeting him," said fan Delores Day.

The family asked that no cameras be allowed inside.  When visitors come in they watched a memorial video in the funeral home's chapel.  They were then ushered to the receiving line to pay their respects to Jimmy's family.  They then could say goodbye at the open casket.

Donna said if she could say anything to her husband, it would be, "Thank you for the privilege of being your wife.  I never took one moment of it for granted and I never will."

Jimmy Dean will be laid to rest in a granite grand piano mausoleum on the couple's Varina property overlooking the James River.

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