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Jimmy Buffett’s Wife Jane Slagsvol Says Late Musician Was ‘Always the Optimist’ Before His Death

Jimmy Buffett‘s widow, Jane Slagsvol, is breaking her silence after the musician’s death at age 76.

“As Jimmy said a few months ago, ‘growing old is not for sissies,'” Slagsvol began in a lengthy tribute shared via Buffett’s website over the weekend. “These last few years have been unimaginably challenging for Jimmy and me, and we’re definitely not sissies.”

Slagsvol went on to thank “a whole world of people” for their “incredible kindness,” which “buoyed” them throughout “every difficult moment” before Buffett’s death. “Everywhere we went, at arenas, at events, and even in the hospitals, we were surrounded by love,” she wrote.

Slagsvol dedicated a portion of her tribute to her husband’s loyal fans, who “became a big, boisterous family” during his decorated career. “Thank you for creating the world’s most joyful community. The smile that Jimmy beamed at you from the stage was sparked by your spirit. I think that’s why he loved performing so much,” she added. “He was so grateful to the community you built around him. Your sympathy and support inspire and comfort me and my family.”

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Buffett died on September 1 following a private four-year battle with Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin cancer that can spread quickly to other parts of the body. In her statement, Slagsvol thanked “the teams of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and caregivers” who cared for Buffett.

“Your compassion was overwhelming in the best possible way,” she noted. “Jimmy listened to everything you said and followed your every order. You gave him hope, even at the most hopeless moments. Thank you for your tenacity in seeking the best solutions at each stage of his illness. You were honest, brave, and empathic; you showed us such dignity and goodness. I could not have asked for a better team of professionals.”

Slagsvol added that she felt “fortunate” — as did Buffett — for the tight-knit group of “honorable” and “generous” people they worked with over the years. “You made our lives better in thousands of ways, big and small, each day. That was especially true during these last few years,” she wrote.

Jimmy Buffett Wife Jane Slagsvol Addresses His Death 2
Jimmy Buffet and Jane Slagsvol C Flanigan/Getty Images

Her message of gratitude continued with a nod to her and Buffett’s friends. “You created a microclimate of affection that surrounded us like the sun. It gave us hope; it felt like a celebration even when things were grim. It’s a balm to me now,” she said. “Without your friendship, we surely would have fallen. I wish each of you has friends as gracious, generous, and kind.”

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Despite his health battle, Slagsvol asserted that Buffett was still “filled with joy” in his final days. “He smiled all the time, even when he was deeply ill. And his sense of humor never wavered,” she wrote. “Jimmy was always the optimist, always twinkling, always making us laugh.”

After noting that she would forever be “unfathomably grateful” to her family for their support, Slagsvol referred to Buffett’s song “Bubbles Up,” one of the last he recorded. “Jimmy knew he was loved. Right until the end, he looked for the light. Thank you for giving joy to him and to me,” she concluded.

Buffett and Slagsvol tied the knot in 1977, five years after his split from first wife Margie Washichek. The “Margaritaville” singer and Slagsvol welcomed daughters Savannah and Sarah Delaney in 1979 and 1992, respectively, and adopted son Cameron. Buffett and Slagsvol separated in the early 1980s before reconciling in 1991 after she got sober.

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