Dr Maya Angelou remembered at public memorial service. - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dr Maya Angelou remembered at public memorial service.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (WBTV) -

Dr Maya Angelou had an unparallel command of words. At a public memorial service to remember and honor the internationally known poet, author, teacher, and activist -  people gathered at her Winston-Salem church were searching for the right words to describe her.

"She had a way. How do you describe someone in one word," Dr. Angelou's grandson, Colin Johnson, said. "How do you tell them how she made you feel because she made you feel different things."

Dr Angelou died Wednesday in Winston Salem at the age of 86.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said, "Our city is grieving. Our city is mourning. Mourning the loss of that strong voice that spoke of social justice."

"She would want this to be a joyful celebration" said Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke. "A great lady who did so much for all of us -the city, the state, the country, the world."

Dr Angelou rose to such prominence - she stood with presidents - but her voice and words reached everyone.

With whomever she walked, friends said she always came home for church at MT Zion Baptist - where she was a member for more than 30 years.

"We see her with simplicity and sense of sincerity" said one of the leaders of MT Zion Baptist Church.

The church is the first to publicly memorialize Dr Angelou - and put into words what the woman of words was about.

"We see her as she rises to give personal testimony at her Church or with a wave of her hand she emits a loud clear Amen to the preached word."

Her grandson said he "remembered coming here {MT Zion} and large boxes and turkeys and hams, sweaters, clothes, all the toys we put in - always anonymously because Grandma didn't do it for anyone."

Dr Angelou joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in 1982.

"After more than 30 years of teaching at Wake Forest, she taught hundreds of students" but Dr Barbee Oakes said Dr. Angelou reached countless others. "She would share with them her belief I am a human being therefore nothing human can be alien to me."

Dr Oakes, Assistant Provost at Wake Forest University, recounted when she went to Dr Angelou for advice.

"And after I shared some of my hopes and fears with Dr. Angelou, I asked her what if I fall?" Dr Oakes said "Dr Angelou paused a minute and she said on my darling what if you fly."

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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