1953-2006

The youngest of the Pointer Sisters—the band that brought you "He's So Shy"—loses her battle with cancer

In 1999, at the low point of her four-decade battle with drug addiction, June Pointer was thrown out of the Pointer Sisters by her own siblings. That tough love, though, was always unconditional. When she died of cancer in Santa Monica at 52 on April 11, sisters Ruth and Anita—with whom she'd reconciled in recent years—were at her side. "Ruthie took June in her arms and held her like a baby," says Anita, 58. "Until she took her last breath."

Despite earning millions from the Pointer Sisters' hits—she sang lead on many including "He's So Shy" and "Jump (For My Love)"—in the '70s and '80s, June was practically homeless in 2000 when she completed her first stint in rehab. "June would take the clothes off her back to give them to you," says her best friend Mindy Lymperis, 45, who took her in after rehab. "You don't abandon friends like that."

Returning to tour with the Pointers in 2002, Pointer, who divorced computer programmer William Whitmore in 1991, left the group permanently after a drug arrest in 2004. In February she suffered a massive stroke, and "once in the hospital they started testing," says Ruth, 60. "We discovered she had so much cancer in her body. There was no treatment." In her final months, "She couldn't speak but she was in such good spirits," says Anita, who plans to serve June's favorite food—McDonald's double cheeseburgers and Orange Crush soda—at her April 21 funeral service. Says Ruth: "She was such a free spirit."