Jimmy Ray Dean (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010) was an American country music singer, television host, actor and businessman. Although he may be best known today as the creator of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand, he became a national television personality starting in 1957, rising to fame for his 1961 country crossover hit "Big Bad John" and his television series, The Jimmy Dean Show, which also gave puppeteer Jim Henson his first national media exposure. His acting career included a supporting role as Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever. He lived near Richmond, Virginia and was nominated for the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010, although he was formally inducted posthumously. A Virginia resident since 1990, Dean was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore appointed Dean to the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, which oversees the state's wildlife efforts and boating laws. In the fall of 2004, he released his blunt, straight-talking autobiography 30 Years of Sausage, 50 Years of Ham. Dean lived in semi-retirement with second wife, Donna Meade Dean, a singer, songwriter, and recording artist he married in 1991, who helped him write his book. The couple lived on their property at Chaffin's Bluff overlooking the James River in Henrico County, on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. On April 20, 2009, the main house was largely gutted by a fire, although the Deans escaped injury. The Deans rebuilt their home on the same foundation and returned early in 2010. Dean, who dropped out of high school in 1946 to work to help his mother, announced on May 20, 2008, a donation of $1 million to Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, the largest gift ever from one individual to the institution. Dean said: "I've been so blessed, and it makes me proud to give back, especially to my hometown."
On February 23, 2010, Dean was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was to have been inducted in October. Dean had three children, Garry, Connie, and Robert, with his first wife Mary Sue (née Wittauer) Dean; and two granddaughters, Caroline Taylor (Connie's daughter) and Brianna Dean (Robert's daughter). Dean died at the age of 81, on June 13, 2010, of natural causes at his home in Varina, Virginia. He is also survived by his second wife Donna and his nephew, country music singer Billy Dean. He was entombed in a 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) piano-shaped mausoleum overlooking the James River on the grounds of his estate. His epitaph reads "Here Lies One Hell of a Man".
|Birth name||Jimmy Ray Dean|
|Born||August 10, 1928|
Olton, TX, United States
|Died||June 13, 2010 (aged 81)|
Varina, Virginia, United States
|Occupations||Singer, actor, businessman|
|Associated acts||Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, Charlie Rich|