"Hot Tamale Lady" Leaves Legacy Behind At 67

Doris Deno
Doris Deno

By Toni Miles - bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - "Back in 1976, Mama had a dream. I'm going to continue my grandfather's tradition of selling hot tamales like all the years he did in Biloxi," said R.J. Deno.

True to her word, Doris Deno opened Doris' Hot Tamales in D'Iberville in 1976. For 32 years, she served homemade hot tamales from a stand in her yard. Her tamales pleased even the most discerning palates.

"We have a lot of Mexican people who know about tamales and they offer us compliments. That's a real compliment," Deno said.

Doris's son, R.J. Deno, worked for many years alongside his mother. He says she loved making tamales, but loved the people she served them to even more.

"She was very passionate. Her heart went to so many different directions and to so many people and to her hot tamale business," R.J. Deno said.

Not even nine feet of flood water could stop Doris' resolve to rebuild the family-owned tamale stand. Doris' Tamales reopened nine months after Katrina.

"Mama put so much energy, and dedication, and hard work, and dedication to bring back the tamale stand, to make it bigger and better than what it was," he said.

Doris Deno died of cancer on Sunday. Ever since, there has been a steady stream of well wishers stopping by the tamale stand to give their condolences. Her children say she left this life the way she lived it.

"Mama did well with her battle with cancer. A lot of dignity. She did real well," he said. "When her time came, she had everyone she loved around her."

Doris Deno was 67-years-old. She leaves behind four children, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her children plan to carry on her legacy, but the tamale stand will be closed until next week.

Visitation will be this Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Howard Avenue Chapel of Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home. The funeral service will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, also at the chapel.