NASHVILLE, TN. - The memorial service for Vestal Goodman, which coincided with New Year's Day, was attended by more than 1,000 people at Christ Church Memorial Gardens. The crowd included long time friends George Jones and Bill and Gloria Gaither. In attendence were other Christian artists including Vince Gill, Dottie Rambo, and Michael W. Smith.
A tape of Goodman singing with Jones, "Mansion Over the Hilltop", played as her pink-rose-covered casket was wheeled in during the intiation of the service. Gill also sang "Go Rest High On That Mountain" during the latter part of the service.
Many testified the "Queen of Gospel Music", who died at the age of 74 on Dec. 27 from flu complications, while visiting family in Florida.
Goodman's longtime pastor, Rev. Marvin Gorman talked about her optimistic personality.
"If you wanted to have a day of discouragement, you didn't want to be around Vestal. It just wouldn't work," he said.
Gorman affirmed her loving nature by sharing how Goodman left a concert engagement in order to fly to meet him because he was experiencing hardship.
"She could make you feel so loved - so special," Gorman said.
From elsewhere, President Bush sent his condolences and his "heartfelt sympathy". Gov. Phil Bredesen sent a letter which marked how Goodman led a "remarkable life of musical ministry."