5 DECEMBER 2003
Canada’s legendary songbird Celine Dion was silent this week as she attended the funeral of her father Adhemar Dion, 80, who died after a lengthy illness.
The singer, who is the youngest of Adhemar’s 14 children, had returned to her hometown of Charlemagne on Monday, but it was her sister Manon Dion who sang the communion hymn at the poignant 90-minute service. A recording of the siblings’ father performing on his accordion was also played.
Celine, who was accompanied by her husband and manager, Rene Angelil, looked pale and wan as she stood on the steps of the church to watch her father's casket placed into a waiting hearse.
The Dion patriarch, who is credited for passing on his dreams of musical success to all of his children, was his youngest daughter’s biggest fan. "He was transformed when Celine stepped on the stage," said Canadian TV presenter Michel Jasmin, who was one of the first to feature the young Celine on TV. "He went from her father to a fan. It was incredible to watch. I saw it time and again."
Outside the church fans bearing bouquets of flowers waited in freezing temperatures to call their support and good wishes to the singer who is currently performing a marathon series of concerts in Las Vegas.
Mr Dion worked in several different roles - from forester to labourer – before buying a club in Charlemagne. Adhemar Dion and his wife Therese were both musicians and often played weekend gigs at the club, where their children also performed.