November 21, 2017
In 2003 Della Reese commanded a table at University Hospital for well over an hour to sign autographs and talk with staff. Reese was in London to pay tribute to the man she called an “angel for life.”
Reese was at the hospital on the occasion of the official opening for the memorial garden and unveiling of the bronze sculpture of world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Drake, who had died in 1998.
Her history with Dr. Drake goes back to 1979 when she suffered a brain aneurysm while taping a song for The Tonight Show.
Thanks to two successful surgeries performed by Dr. Drake she was able to make a full recovery. She continued her singing and acting career and starred in the inspirational drama series Touched By An Angel, still in syndication.
“You know about the medical things he did for me, now let me tell you about all the other things he did for me,” Reese said at the time. She then talked about how Drake ensured that her scar from the surgery was well hidden. And she talked about his smile.
“He smiled at me … it was the first time anyone had smiled at me in 10 days, and already I felt better.”
Reese, a jazz and gospel singer, actress, and ordained minister, died Sunday, Nov. 19.