Tanya Tucker Says Goodbye to Her Late Brother, Don

Jesse Donald Tucker died January 12 following a battle with dementia and COVID-19.

Written by Chris Parton
Tanya Tucker Says Goodbye to Her Late Brother, Don
Tanya Tucker and her brother, Don; Photo courtesy of Tanya Tucker on Facebook

Country star Tanya Tucker marked the passing of her older brother, Don, in a heartfelt post to social media Friday (January 29), writing about the siblings’ final meeting.

At 76 years old, Jesse Donald Tucker died on January 12 following a battle with dementia and COVID-19. The trailblazer and comeback artist behind 2019’s acclaimed While I’m Livin’ shared a candid story of their last moments together, highlighting the love between them.

“I went to see him in the hospital just before,” Tucker wrote, noting that dementia had robbed her brother of his memory, so he didn’t recognize her. “I hadn’t seen him in years, but I felt like it might be the last time I’d see him again. He was frail and I knew his time was near. We sang and I told him stories hoping to jog his memory, we FaceTimed our cousin Leland Tucker in Texas, but he didn’t recognize him either. I put one of Leland’s crosses around his neck and told him that I loved him. He was happier and light with no anger, no bitterness, all the bad was gone.”

The brother and sister continued their reunion with a song, Tucker went on, sharing the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Music has been shown to help dementia patients regain parts of their memory and reunite with loved ones, and it sounds like it helped Tucker and Don say goodbye.

“I feel sorry that we didn’t have the relationship that we should have had, but all is forgiven just like I wrote and sang on ‘Bring My Flowers Now,’” she wrote. “All that came between us was now so very unimportant and small. There was a gentle peace that wrapped around my heart and I’m so very thankful that God chose me to be his little sister and he to be my big brother. All is well.
He’s soaring now, wings stretched out and flying higher than eagles dare. He’s free. No more chains. No more sadness! Sail on big brother… sail on… Love You!”

Tucker signed her note “Your lil sis, Tanya ‘punkin’ Tucker,” and included a vintage photo of the two. His obituary was published by the Hendersonville Standard in Tennessee.