Christy Coleman, Chief Executive Officer of the American Civil War Museum, used to live in Detroit, where she worked as CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History.
Coleman, recently named by Time magazine as one of the top 31 people changing the South, remembers a special guest who often came to the museum: the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died today at 76 in Detroit.
"She loved Detroit, that was her hometown. She was always everywhere like a regular person," says Coleman. "When I worked at the museum she was a frequent visitor."
Coleman says that she expects Franklin's funeral will be one of the largest in the city's history, and that her former museum will likely do something in her honor.
"At that time the Charles Wright Museum was the largest African-American museum in the country. We had a lot of celebrities come through," she recalls. "Aretha was very down-to-earth. At the same time she was a no-nonsense kind of person. 'Just show me what's going on, don't give me all that froo-froo, but show me my respect.' You had to be real with her, but at the same time you had to be respectful that you were in the presence of the Queen [laughs]."
Coleman says that people were more than willing to bow down.
"Aretha was really a lovely woman," she says. "She could be very funny. And she was definitely one of our favorites we got to meet."