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Karen Carpenter, who sang with her brother as one...

By JEFF WILSON

DOWNEY, Calif. -- Karen Carpenter, who sang with her brother as one of America's top pop music acts in the 1970s, was remembered at her funeral Tuesday as 'one of God's most gifted and talented creations.'

About 700 friends, family members and fans -- among them such other singing stars as Dionne Warwick, John Davidson, Toni Tennille and Olivia Newton-John -- packed the Methodist Church just blocks from the house where she once lived. Hundreds more fans stood outside under rain-threatening skies.

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Miss Carpenter, 32, who had recently suffered from anorexia nervosa, collapsed in a closet at her parents' home last Friday and died a short time later at a nearby hospital. Preliminary autopsy results failed to disclose the cause of death.

'One of God's most gifted and talented creations is gone,' the Rev. Charles Neal, her childhood minister in New Haven, Conn., said during the eulogy. 'The world weeps because Karen's story graced this world.

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'She has captured the hearts of the world with friendship, love and joy. Karen stood for an integrity, a quality of life that is so refreshing.

'She has graced all of our lives with love and song and there is no place on earth where Karen is not singing.'

At one point Neal looked at her white metal casket, covered with red and white roses, and said, 'On the day you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true,' from The Carpenters' hit, 'Close to You,'

The minister also recited the words to 'We've Only Just Begun,' one of many hit songs Miss Carpenter recorded with her brother, Richard. Before the service, a soloist played a medley of their songs.

Pallbearers at the service, which was followed by a private burial at Forest Lawn Cypress, included bandleader Herb Alpert and John Bettis, who wrote the lyrics for many of the Carpenters' songs.

Honorary pallbearers included Miss Newton-John, Burt Bacharach, former California Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, ice skating star Dorothy Hamil and drummer and former Mousketeer Cubby O'Brien.

The choir from Cal State Long Beach, Miss Carpenter's alma mater, sang 'Adoramus Te' and a soloist sang 'Ave Maria.'

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The Rev. Michael Winstead, minister of the church, read several Bible passages including Psalm 100, which begins 'Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,' and a section of Romans including the promise that 'nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God.'

Many of the hundreds of mourners who attended the service or stood outside were fans in their 20s and 30s who remembered Miss Carpenter from their youth. Many carried small rose bouquets.

'When I was growing up she kind of understood what I was going through in her songs,' explained one fan, Mary Grouch.

Another, Earl Storm, said he attended the funeral 'just to thank her for the beauty she gave to my life.'

Miss Carpenter, was just 19 when 'Close To You' entered the national Top 10 in 1970. By 1976 the duo had scored more than a dozen Top 20 hits, including 'Rainy Days and Mondays' and 'Superstar,' and registered more than $60 million in sales.

Their popularity faded during the late 1970s, but they returned to the charts in 1981 with 'Touch Me When We're Dancing.'

Miss Carpenter was married in 1980 to Thomas Burris, an industrialist and financial aide to President Reagan, but was divorced a short time later and moved to New York.

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Besides her brother, she is survived by both parents and a sister.

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