LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Known around the world as a poet and author, Maya Angelou called North Carolina home.

She died Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem. A hearse carried her body from her home this morning. Angelou had been battling a number of health problems recently.

She was a literary legend, best known for her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She was awarded the highest civilian honor in the US, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The icon was also the second person to recite a poem during an inauguration. She spoke at President Clinton's first swearing in.

Maya Angelou often lent her name to a number of worthwhile causes, raising money for the United Negro College fund during a Charlotte luncheon each year. NBC Charlotte s Sonja Gantt had the chance to meet her when Wake Forest named a medical research center in her name. She told Sonja then what she hoped people would most remember about her message.

Human beings are more alike than not alike, whatever our races, whatever our colors, whatever our religions, creed and political bent. If they only understood that we are really one people, she said.

There s one Charlotte family remembers Angelou as more than a writer an activist. They were fortunate enough to call her friend.

And she would just be there having great conversation and all of a sudden she would just break out in song and have everybody just singing along with her. And then she would move through the house, and then she would have all this food to come out, and she was just wonderful, Jean Webber says recalling Angelou as a gracious host. Webber visited her Winston Salem home often.

Each year when Dr. Angelou came to Charlotte for the Women Who Lead Luncheon named in her honor, Jean s daughter-in-law Sterlin would host the post-luncheon get-together. Sterlin will always be impressed by her willingness to share.

Her whole life story was so real and she didn t try to embellish that. She shared that truth with everyone and everyone could draw inspiration from that, in terms of their lives can take detours that aren t so great but you can rebound. When I think of her, I think of somebody who turned an ordinary life into a an extraordinary journey, she said.

Sterlin's daughter Symphony has played the piano for Dr. Angelou several times over the years and found her to be nothing but encouraging to a young aspiring performer.

I just feel blessed to have known her. I remember her sharing her words of wisdom with me. One that will always resonate with me is Bow to no man, only bow to God.

If it is true that people may forget what you do, or what you say, but never how you make them feel, Maya Angelou will always have a special place in the hearts of the Webbers.

All she needed was people because she just loved everybody, Jean says.
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/07/21/11801708/