Donda West Remembered in Speech and Song
11/16/2007 AT 02:35 PM EST
Through tears, one friend recalled that West, who died Nov. 10 of possible complications from surgery, was "open and friendly with everyone. It didn't matter if you had a PhD, a bachelor's degree or no degree at all. She made everyone feel important."
Another friend read a poem about mothers, which included the lines: "How shall we celebrate mothers?/How shall we call them in the winter of their lives?/What melody will cure slow bones?/Who will bring them worriless late-years?/Who will thank them for hidden pains?"
Dr. Brenda Eatman Aghahowa, the current head of the English department, which West once ran, led a call-and-response with the audience. "She was very clear that the work people are doing is not as important as the people who are doing it," Aghahowa said.
A group of musicians and singers led the crowd in a rendition of the gospel song "I Will Rejoice."
Kanye West was not in attendance; Donda West's nephew represented the family.