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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Southern Maid Donuts


Sunny Dear

Southern Maid Donut and Flour Company

Sunny Dear, born in 1960, was raised in Dallas, Texas. When asked about her early life, she replies, “Always donuts.” During the 1970s, she traveled with her mother Doris across south Texas and west Texas, up through Oklahoma and down across Louisiana and Mississippi to open Southern Maid Donut stores. In 1978 at the age of eighteen, “Sunny’s Southern Maid” opened at the Shiloh and Ferguson intersection in the Casa View area of Dallas. Sunny arrived at the store at 3am in the morning, worked a few hours, and headed off to school in Richland.

Dear is a third generation family member of the Southern Maid Donut and Flour Company, along with her brother, Les, the current CEO. She recalls learning to drive forklifts to help offload delivery trucks before even learning how to drive a car. During this interview, Sunny shares descriptions of many black and white glossy photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, and reads from her grandmother Rosalee’s handwritten correspondence that details the evolution of Southern Maid in her grandmother’s own words. For Sunny, the legacy of Southern Maid Donuts is wrapped up in customer service and community building.

Date of interview:

Jaime Cantrell

Cooper Neill

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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