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Celine Dion says goodbye to her father
( 2003-12-05 16:08) (ctv.ca)

Singer Celine Dion waved politely and smiled slightly to fans and mourners Thursday after a funeral service for her father, who has been described as her No. 1 fan.

Dion stood on the steps of the Roman Catholic church after the private service and also watched her father's casket be placed into a waiting hearse.

Adhemar Dion, 80, died last weekend after a lengthy illness.

Fans, who had waited outside in chilly temperatures, shouted Courage to the 35-year-old pop star and held up bouquets of flowers.

Earlier, a sad-looking Dion escorted her mother, Therese, into the church. The singer was carrying a bouquet of flowers and also seemed tired, but acknowledged the crowd of several hundred townsfolk with a slight nod and wave.

Her husband and manager, Rene Angelil, followed Dion and her mother into the St-Simon and Jude church. Other family members then made their way into the church, about 40 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Townsfolk watched as 20 limousines, 15 cars carrying flowers and five busloads of family and friends arrived for the invitation-only service.

About 350 people were expected to attend the service, including 200 members of the Dion family.

"There will be no room for the public inside the church," said local police officer Paul Diamond before the service.

Security guards and provincial police also were on hand with local officers to block off streets in Dion's hometown.

The Dion patriarch is credited for passing on his dreams of musical success to all of his children.

Michel Jasmin, a well-known television host in Quebec who was one of the first to feature the young Celine on TV, has described Adhemar as a quiet, simple man who loved watching his daughter perform.

"He was transformed when Celine stepped on the stage," Jasmin said earlier this week. "He went from her father to a fan. It was incredible to watch. I saw it time and again."

Adhemar Dion and his wife were both musicians and often played weekend gigs at a cabaret they owned in Charlemagne.

From the age of five, Celine was brought to the club to sing along with her siblings.

Her father worked at a slew of different jobs -- from forestry worker to general labourer -- as he struggled to support his young family before buying an inn in Charlemagne.

Celine Dion personally greeted hundreds of people Wednesday who came to a funeral home in Laval, Que., to pay their last respects to her father.

Dion -- the youngest of Adhemar's 14 children -- returned to Quebec on Monday from Las Vegas, where she had gone ahead with her show after learning of her father's death.

The singer became best known for her Oscar-winning hit My Heart Will Go On from the Titanic soundtrack. She is currently in the midst of a long-term contract to perform the Las Vegas show.

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