Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013
BY SUZETTE LABOY
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – As her music played in the background, country music star Mindy McCready was remembered Tuesday by friends and family as a fun and talented singer who also "wanted to be healed" from her past.
About 200 friends and family gathered in the 37-year-old singer's Florida hometown of Fort Myers. A large screen behind the altar of Crossroads Baptist Church was filled with her images and her portrait stood nearby.
"Our Mindy was so tired. She felt helpless," said McCready's mother, Gayle Inge. "She was in her darkest moment and she was hurt by so many allegations. She was too emotional to understand."
McCready, whose real name was Malinda Gayle McCready, committed suicide Feb. 17 at her home in Arkansas, days after leaving a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program. The mother of two died from a single gunshot to the head about a month after her longtime boyfriend David Wilson's death, also thought to be suicide, in the same place.
Inge acknowledged that her daughter had faced many battles but now: "Her spirit found healing on the other side."
McCready's personal problems started in 2004 and included a custody battle with her mother over one of her sons. She was briefly hospitalized in 2010 after police responded to an overdose call to a home her mother owned in North Fort Myers, Fla., and she later appeared on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," where she declared herself clean from drugs.
McCready's family declined to address any custody issue at the funeral.
"She wanted them to know that nothing, not even death, could separate her from them," Gayle Inge said of McCready's two sons, Zander Ryan and Zayne Christopher. "She's healed. She's no longer sick," she added, referring to what she told McCready's sons.
A separate funeral organized by her friends and the music community is tentatively scheduled for March 6 in Nashville, Tenn.
McCready's stepfather, brothers and cousin also shared their fondest - and often funny - memories of McCready.
"You all know I grew up coming from a broken home," said brother Timothy McCready, wiping away tears. "It makes your brothers and sisters really important to you. We used to joke about how she raised us...we raised each other, all of us. And she probably got us all in a lot more trouble than she got us out of," he later joked about his sister.
"I just know that Mindy is on vacacioun where she is," said younger brother Skylar Phelan, referring to how McCready often used the Latin word for "vacation" to get out of chores.
McCready grew up in Fort Myers, where she took private vocal lessons and later sang in karaoke bars.
Family friend Julie Ende-Killion remembers the day when McCready won her first award for "Ten Thousand Angels."
"And I remember her coming out of the trailer," she recalled. "I think she was in Kenny Chesney's trailer because she didn't even have her own dressing room at that time. Nashville is a pretty cool place. She made her mark on it."
McCready arrived in Nashville in 1994 and hit the top of the country charts before her personal problems sidetracked her career.
In 1996, her "Guys Do It All the Time" hit No. 1. Her other hits included "Ten Thousand Angels," which her stepfather sang during the funeral.
"She's our special angel," said Michael Inge. "She sang a song years ago about `Ten Thousand Angels' watching over her and now she is in the presence of all those 10 thousand angels," Michael Inge said.
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