Jan 22, 2016 6:26 PM
Friends, family join Celine Dion in service for husband
The Associated Press
MONTREAL (AP) A veiled, expressionless C line Dion sat in silence at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica on Friday as she, along with hundreds of her friends, family members and fans mourned the loss of her husband and longtime manager, Ren Ang lil.
Ang lil died Jan. 14, two days before his 74th birthday, after living with throat cancer for years.
She did not speak publicly at the funeral, instead leaving her and Ang lil's eldest son, Ren -Charles, to deliver a touching eulogy.
"Fifteen years is not a long time for a son to get to know his father. You had a busy life, but we were communicating through golf, hockey, poker and smoked meat," Ren -Charles Ang lil said, sharing a quick laugh with his mother who looked on from the front pew.
"You left me now with enough good memories to share with my younger brothers (Eddy and Nelson)... I'll make sure to pass on what I learned from you," he continued. "I love you, Dad."
Dion and Ren -Charles had spent nearly seven hours the previous day greeting fans and mourners at a public visitation at the same church, just feet away from the open casket that contained Ang lil's body.
The couple had wed at the same church 21 years ago.
Retired National Hockey League coach Michel Bergeron, who once coached the Quebec City Nordiques and New York Rangers, was a close friend of Ang lil's.
"People ask me if I have memories. I have a thousand memories," Bergeron said before entering the church. He said Friday marked the third occasion he had been to the Notre-Dame Basilica for a Dion-Ang lil event: their 1994 wedding, the baptism of their eldest son Ren -Charles and finally, Ang lil's funeral.
He noted that Ang lil, knowing he was terminally ill, had planned his funeral before dying. He joked he was anxious to see which pew seat Ang lil assigned to him.
Countless Quebec celebrities and dignitaries noted Ang lil's generosity, among them former premier Jean Charest, current premier Philippe Couillard and the mayors of Montreal and Quebec City, Denis Coderre and R gis Labeaume.
Nearly 700 members of the public also attended Friday's funeral. They began gathering outside the basilica as early as 6 a.m. to ensure they got a seat.
Clutching her copy of Paris Match magazine featuring a cover story on Dion and Ang lil, Andr a Marier said the couple's story in which Ang lil plucked Dion, then a teen from Charlemagne, Que., from obscurity and turned her into an international musical superstar was an inspiration to thousands of fans.
"The grand and beautiful history of their love," Marier said.
Ang lil's casket was later taken to Montreal's Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery for a private graveside ceremony.