"I definitely need my privacy right now, and am not available for interviews," Donna Dean told Richmond's WTVR-TV. "My husband died of natural causes, and funeral services are pending."
Beverly Donati, a longtime friend of the family, said Jimmy Dean had been "weak for awhile now" but she was still surprised by his passing.
"He was just a very unique human being, one that comes along not very often," Donati told the TV station.
Dean had a slew of hits, starting with 1961's "Big Bad John" and from there went into business, peddling the sausage brand that bears his name. He recently was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His induction was to take place later in the year.