A Legion of Stars Gave Natalie Cole an Eloquent Final Send-off

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natalie-coleThe talented singer and entertainer Natalie Cole died on New Years Eve at the age of 65. Many stars came out to say farewell to an unforgettable colleague and friend Monday. Musicians and entertainers like Smokey Robinson came to pay tribute to the late singer with speeches and songs. Others in attendance included Chaka Khan, Angela Bassett, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, David Foster, Lionel Richie and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The private ceremony was a time to reflect on her life and legacy while reminiscing on the good times.

“My sister was a warrior in the best sense of the word,” Casey Cole Hooker said. “In the end her body simply began to give out, and it shut down. She was long accepting of what was coming and trying to make us OK.”

There were several hundred mourners, including Freddy Cole, the singer’s 84-year-old uncle and brother to Nat “King” Cole.

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Singer Smokey Robinson Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

 

Photo by Larry Busacca
Lionel Richie consoles Cole’s family.  Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“She conquered and stepped up and rose above it all,” Richie said in his parting words to the family and fellow mourners. “I will always remember her laughter, her humor, her silliness, that voice and more importantly her friendship. There were many moments she was down and she picked me up.”

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Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

 

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Singer Stevie Wonder. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“We must continue the spirit and kindness that this woman gave the world,” Wonder said, glancing down at Cole’s closed casket bedecked with a large spray of her favorite white roses. “She left this country where people are so divided. We speak of love, but we don’t do love. We’ve got a lot of work to do Natalie, and we will do it in the spirit of you.”

The services were held at the Los Angeles West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Cole is survived by her son Robert Yancy.

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