Celebration of life service held for former Sen. Thelma Harper

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Posted at 5:55 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 22:22:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The community came together to celebrate the life of former Tennessee state senator and Metro Councilwoman Thelma Harper.

A final visitation was held prior to the celebration of life service at the Gentry Center at Tennessee State University, her alma mater.

Watch the full celebration of life service below:

Harper passed away two weeks ago at 80-years-old but is leaving a major mark on the Volunteer State.

Harper wore many hats – both as part of her wardrobe and as part of her career in public office. That's why today's event is being called "Hats Off to Thelma Harper.”

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Former Sen. Thelma Harper collected more than 100 hats while in office.

Afterward the service, a motorcade passed some of Nashville's biggest landmarks before she was laid to rest.

The day will end with a farewell rally at Kingdom Cafe, which was formerly Harper's Restaurant.

Harper was a state senator for 28 years, an office she held until retiring in 2018. She was the first African American woman to hold this position in Tennessee.

But those that know her say her work goes beyond public office.

“Dedicated is a word that has to be associated with her. She was truly a servant. She was a servant in the community and with all the work she did in the community, she still found time for significant engagement in the work of this congregation,” said Minister Robert Gardenhire with Schrader Lane Church of Christ.

The events are open to the public. Mask will be required, and there are capacity limitations.