Paula Ann Hiers Deen (born January 19, 1947)
Deen was born Paula Ann Hiers in Albany, Georgia
, the daughter of Corrie A. Hiers (née Paul) and Earl Wayne Hiers, Sr. She grew up Baptist
, and is still deeply devoted to her faith. Her parents died before she was 23, and an early marriage ended in divorce. In her 20s, Deen suffered from panic attack
s and agoraphobia
. She then focused on cooking for her family as something she could do without leaving her house. Her grandmother Irene Paul had taught her the hand-me-down art of Southern cooking; one of the only places she felt safe was at her own stove, making thousands of pots of chicken and dumplings. She later moved to Savannah, Georgia
, with her sons. In 1989, she divorced her husband, Jimmy Deen, to whom she had been married since 1965. She was left with only $200 making sandwiches and meals, which her sons Jamie and Bobby delivered.