The late Cedella Marley Booker, mother of reggae star Bob Marley, was remembered for her vivacious laugh and engaging smile in a memorial service Tuesday at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Hundreds turned out for the ceremony, where family and friends spoke of visits to her Pinecrest home, where she loved to show off her garden and share her life experiences in Miami and Jamaica.
''She will be always in our hearts on this special day as we celebrate her life and transition into the spiritual realm,'' said her grandson, musician Julian Marley.
''Mother Booker,'' as she was affectionately known, died April 8 at her home at age 81.
At the service, many spoke of her life accomplishments, including her albums Awake Zion and Smilin' Island of Song.
''She helped to preserve the tremendous legacy of the Marley family and her many contributions [to Jamaica] are immeasurable,'' said Ricardo Allicock, consul general of Jamaica for the Southern United States.
The mother of four children, 14 grandchildren and 49 great grandchildren was described by family and friends as feisty, optimistic and loving.
''She gave so much and was loved by many,'' said son Richard Booker.
``I miss her, but she is here with us in spirit.''
Speakers at the ceremony were Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976 and mother of Damian Marley; and Sharon Lawson, a reporter for WTVJ-NBC 6.
As smoke lingered from the sage, myrrh and frankincense, many clapped and rose from their seats during performances by grandsons Julian and Damian Marley, daughter Pearl Livingston, the El Bethel Tabernacle Choir and the Delou African Ensemble.
Stafford Hill, who described himself as a fan of Booker's, said even though he didn't know Booker that well, she made an impression.
``I loved her personality. She seemed to always shine and I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure she's smiling down on us right now.''
Booker, who founded the Miami-based Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, an organization that benefits the underprivileged in Miami and the Caribbean, also published books Bob Marley, My Son and Bob Marley: An Intimate Portrait By His Mother.
Livingston noted, 'Right before she passed, she said, `Some have to die before others can live.' I think we can all carry on that message.''
Although several tears were shed at the three-hour tribute, many laughed during a video clip recorded by Booker last year, in which she talked about her famous son's childhood antics and her Rastafarian faith, among other things.
``The love for my children, my family, that's what's made me the happiest. They are the apples of my eye.''
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