East Texans came together Saturday to celebrate the life of country music legend Ray Price.
The 82-year-old Price, who was known for his smooth baritone voice and easy-going manner, passed away earlier this week after a long battle with cancer. First Baptist Church of Mount Pleasant was packed with friends, family and fans, paying tribute to the man with the golden voice.
"Ray and I were blessed to know each other 20 years. He meant so much to country music, Billboard Magazine ranks him the tenth most important person in country music history," says Grand Ol' Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs.
The service included a look back at Price's career, his performances with county music legends, and how he never lost his humble hometown nature.
"He knew where it all came from. He gave the credit to God. He loved his fans; he would stay and autograph until the last person left the show," Stubbs says.
"He did not consider himself a star," says family friend Bill Mack.
"To us he was family, but to the greater East Texas he was someone who had a God given gift that he shared with others and that was the gift of voice," says Tyler mayor Barbara Bass, who is also related to Price.
Price was a familiar face in the community, and friends say he loved being a small town neighbor.
"He said he wanted to die at home in Mount Pleasant. He loved Mount Pleasant. Without exception, I don't believe we'll ever find a more diversified, smoother voice. Ray, his specialty was country music, but he could sing anything," Mack says.
"He appealed to the masses. He had that kind of voice. I believe Ray Price could have sung the tax code or the phone book and people would have bought it," Stubbs says.
Though he lost his battle with cancer, friends say a part of Price will always be with them.
"The great thing is, the records will live on," says Stubbs.
"They may be gone physically, but they stay in the heart," Mack says.
Price had lived in Mount Pleasant for more than 30 years.
If you couldn't make it to today's ceremony, another one will be held next weekend in Richardson, TX at Canyon Creek Baptist Church. The church is located at 2800 Custer Parkway. That ceremony will start at 3:30 on Saturday, December 28th.