NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A New Orleans Funeral Director is serving as a pallbearer at services honoring Aretha Franklin this week.
Darnell Prejean works for D.W. Rhodes Funeral home in New Orleans. He said a 30 year relationship with the Swanson Funeral home in Michigan got him a treasured place in Franklin's funeral activities.
“We are so happy to be here and have an opportunity to be up close and personal with the Queen of Soul and to be a part of something so great and historic,” he said.
His colleague Gilbert Jones, who is a manager at Rhodes, is also serving as pallbearer.
“We got here Sunday and started assisting Swanson on Monday with Mrs. Franklin. We were able to meet members of her family and security through the years. They’ve shared stories about her personally.”
Prejean said it's been overwhelming to see the line of hundreds and thousands of people waiting to see Franklin.
“Through the windows you can hear people screaming and hollering and holding signs and chanting and singing. We’ve been talking to people who traveled all over the country just to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul. It’s just amazing for us,” he said.
“She’s absolutely beautiful and as people pass by the casket, many are filled with emotion crying and really feeling the grief. Lots of her friends and family have been feeling it over the couple of weeks. She’s one of Detroit’s own.”
Prejean feels close to an icon that he's he's always admired but never met.
“I grew up hearing Re Re. She’s everything that all have said she is and it’s been an honor. She truly deserves it.”