Tuesday, Oct. 21, 1997 | 9:43 a.m.
Stevie Wonder sang Monday at a funeral for Charles Lee Redmond, a Las Vegas limo driver who was shot to death earlier this month.
Last week, Wonder called the MGM Grand hotel-casino, where Redmond worked, requesting Redmond as his driver while in Las Vegas. Wonder was told that the man who had driven him around Las Vegas the past two years was killed Oct. 13, allegedly by a dancer who had been stalking him.
The dancer, 21-year-old Nicole Thornton, committed suicide afterward.
"He called Renee (Redmond's wife) and told her he wanted to sing at Lee's funeral," said Redmond's sister, Jami Pomerleau.
Wonder was one of about 150 people who attended the service for the 35-year-old Redmond.
Wonder's presence was powerful, with some members of the congregation at the New Bethel Baptist Church on D Street near Washington Avenue jumping to their feet and clapping as Wonder sang "I Won't Complain."
Accompanied by a church organist, he sang, "I've had some hills to climb ... but God knows what's best for me," ending with "God bless you, Lee."
"It was only through the love of Lee that I am here today," Wonder told the congregation. "It is only through Lee's love that I am here as a friend. Our friendship was not based on who I was. It was based on being a friend."
Wonder said he remembered the first day he met Redmond.
"I knew instantly that this man would be someone special in my life. As much as I'm hurt that he is not here in the physical, I am so glad that he is looking down on us, protecting us."
Before the service, Wonder said of Redmond to a family friend, "I have a new brother."
The Rev. Jesee Leo Wesley, addressing the congregation, said, "Things happen that we don't understand."
Redmond's father, Ralph Redmond, said while "Lee was not perfect -- none of us are -- he loved life." He said his son was a person with the ability to dream "and put those dreams into reality."
Redmond's pallbearers, one by one, described Redmond as their best friend, with one saying, "You don't get a lot of best friends in your life."
Pomerleau thanked Patricia Stocker, who also attended the service, for helping her brother. Stocker, with her roommate, found Redmond inside the gate to their apartment complex shortly after he was shot. He died in her arms.
"I've thanked her personally, but I want to thank her publicly for giving my brother comfort during the last moments of his life," Pomerleau told mourners.