Funeral arrangements set for Motown star Dennis Edwards

Susan Whitall and Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Funeral services have been set for Dennis Edwards, former member of the Temptations. The Grammy-winning singer died last week in Chicago.

Funeral services for legendary Motown singer Dennis Edwards will be Sunday in St. Louis. A memorial service will be held in Detroit on Feb. 17 at Little Rock Baptist Church.

A public visitation and “Celebration of Life” will be held for Edwards at 3 p.m. Sunday at Faith Miracle Temple, 870 Pershall Road, in St. Louis.

Locally, Metro Detroiters and others will be able to pay their respects to the Motown star during a memorial service at 11 a.m. Feb. 17 at Little Rock Baptist Church, 9000 Woodward, in Detroit. The public is invited to the service, said the Rev. James Holley, pastor of the Detroit church.

“We’re hoping Motown will be celebrating (Edwards’ life) with us,” said Holley on Wednesday when announcing the service. “We felt like we own this to the family.

“You can’t think of Motown without the Temptations, and you can’t think of the Temptations without Motown.”

Edwards’ first cousin, Leon Fuller of Detroit, said it only seems natural to have a memorial service for Edwards in Detroit because “he came from Detroit... He went to Cass Tech (but graduated from Eastern High School). He’s well-known here, and Motown was here.”

Edwards, 74, died Thursday at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. His death has been attributed to complications from meningitis but a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Edwards’ death is under investigation by Chicago police and that the official cause and manner are pending.

Weeks before Edwards’ death, a personal protection order was filed by the Health Care Consortium of Illinois, which investigates elder abuse cases for the state of Illinois, on Edwards’ behalf allegedly elder abuse. The legal paperwork, obtained by The Detroit News, listed his wife, Brenda Edwards, 60, as the respondent in the complaint.

In a statement released Tuesday, Brenda Edwards disputed the allegations of abuse. “I loved Dennis and we were married for 18 years. I would have never done anything to harm him. These allegations are false and defamatory and will be proven as such.”

Fuller’s daughter, Veronica Fuller-Stewart, who is planning the Detroit memorial for Edwards, said she doesn’t want the stories about the investigation into the entertainer’s death to overshadow his contribution to Motown and music.

“I want this to be a celebration of life and as positive as possible,” said Fuller-Stewart on Wednesday. “He had a great, great life. He brought so much joy to millions of people. That’s commendable.”

Dennis Edwards’ gruff, heartbreaking vocals brought the Temptations into a whole new era with such classics as “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” The 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was two days shy of his 75th birthday when he died.