Family remembers Doris “Cousin Tuny” Freeman

JACKSON, Tenn. — Doris “Cousin Tuny” Freeman passed away Friday night after 91 years of a full, blessed life according to family members.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 8.13.15 PMCousin Tuny was a beloved leader across West Tennessee known for her work on television, radio, and with the Carl Perkin’s Center.

“I can think of no other person that has had the impact on this community, on Jackson, on West Tennessee as her,” her grandson Brad Little said. “She was a pioneer for women, and for women being successful in business. Early on she was a pioneer in radio, and television, she went on to manage the mall, has a passion for health care, and went on to work at West Tennessee Health Care as the public relations director so she has done so much for so many.”

Freeman began her entertainment career in the 1930’s as a singer and tap dancer on local radio. She created the child-loving “Tuny” character that she would go on to feature on radio, television and in live venues.

Freeman hosted a daily children’s TV show in Jackson from 1955 to 1967 and also headed Cousin Tuny Enterprises, one of Jackson’s first advertising agencies. A single mother of four, Freeman became Jackson’s first female radio advertising representative with WDXI in 1948.

Family members said she started performing at the age of 5 on the top of a hotel, and she never stopped performing.

“I think right now she is probably up in heaven singing “Blue Suede Shoes” with Carl and dancing around and having her a big time. She will be missed but for me as her being my mentor she taught me how to live and in dieting she taught me how to die with dignity,” Carl Perkins Center CEO Pam Nash said.

Cousin Tuny had a special place in her heart for abused and special needs children, dedicating much of her life to advocating for them in any way she could. She hosted more than 70 telethons, raising millions of dollars for children in West Tennessee.

“I think when we think of celebrities I think we think of rich and famous, and she certainly was famous for this area, there is no doubt about that, but she was not rich, not in the terms of the worldly riches that we think about, she was dry rich in blessings and in love, and the reason for that, and the reason that she passed away with maybe a little in the bank account, is because she spent her entire life giving back to this community”Little said.

“It was always about the kids and what she could do and what she wanted to do to make this world a better place, and she did,” Nash said.

Her grandson said Tuny loved to end a lot of speeches with this quote, saying it summed up her life perfectly.

“A hundred years from now, nobody will remember who I was what I did, or how much money I had. But the world may be a little different and a little better because I was important in the life of a child.”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet for Freeman.

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