PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- About 4,000 people packed the Philadelphia Baptist church Saturday where Teddy Pendergrass worshipped during his life to mourn his death.
The Rev. Alyn Waller, senior pastor at Enon Baptist Church, said even the 1982 car crash that left the rhythm-and-blues singer paralyzed could not stop him, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"He kept on loving and smiling," Waller said.
Pendergrass, 59, who grew up in North Philadelphia, died Jan. 13 after a struggle with colon cancer.
Before the service, Pendergrass's voice echoed through the church from loudspeakers while a screen showed photographs of the singer.
The crowd included Pendergrass's mother, Ida, and second wife, Joan, and celebrities like actor Ben Vereen, Melba Moore and former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier. There were also Philadelphians grateful Pendergrass never deserted the city where he was born and became famous.
"It's important as a citizen of Philadelphia I come here to support my own," said Kelly Morris, who works for the Philadelphia-area transit agency SEPTA as a train operator. "It's right to be here today. A big part of my appreciation is that Teddy stayed in town, didn't go out to the West Coast."