DETROIT, Mich. — The hearse that brought Aretha Franklin’s body to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Tuesday has historical significance.
The ivory, two-door 1940 Cadillac LaSalle also transported the body of Franklin’s beloved father, the legendary pastor and civil rights figure Rev. C.L. Franklin, decades ago.
“Ironically around this time,” funeral director O’Neil Swanson II told CNN. “He died in July 1984.”
Aretha Franklin died earlier this month at the age of 76 of pancreatic cancer.
This week, Franklin’s home city of Detroit has transformed into a massive tribute to the beloved singer.
The vehicle which carried Franklin’s body Tuesday also transported civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005 and Temptations singer David Ruffin in 1991.
Swanson, whose family has been in the funeral services business for 60 years, said they were “honored to be able to help” as they did when the “Queen of of Soul” lost her dad.
Crowds gathered Tuesday to view the singer lying in repose inside the museum.
The hearse arrived early Tuesday morning. A group of pallbearers wearing dark suits and white gloves escorted the casket inside the museum.
The sight sparked a great deal of emotion.
“I was so stunned when we took the body out of the hearse, people all over the crowd were tearful and saying, ‘I love you Aretha,”‘ Swanson said. “They really loved her, and she loved Detroit.”
He said the casket in which Franklin rests is 24-karat gold-plated and the top of the line.
“God didn’t make a better singer and there isn’t a better casket,” Swanson said. “She deserves the very best.”