Della Reese, whose real name was Delloreese Patricia Early, has died at the age of 86. She was surrounded by her family and friends when she died peacefully at her home in Encino, California on Sunday, November 19, 2017. Over the years, Reese's health began to fail. In 1979, the actress suffered a brain aneurysm. In 2002, Reese announced she had been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. By 2016, Della was using a wheelchair after having two brain surgeries.

Della was well-known for her role as Tess on the CBS television series, "Touched By an Angel" that aired for nine seasons from September 21, 1994, until April 27, 2003.

It became one of prime time’s top-rated shows having more than 20 million viewers for each of its 212 episodes that always had a happy ending because of the wisdom and encouragement from Tess.

Even though her role was superior to co-star Roma Downey, Reese was making $100,000 per episode, but it was less than Downey's. That's because Reese had every weekend off to fly from Utah to go home to California for church services.

Her family

Reese leaves behind to mourn her death her fourth husband of 34 years, Franklin Lett, and three children, James, Franklin, and Dominique. Her daughter Deloreese preceded her mother in death in 2002. Her "Touched By an Angel" co-star Roma Downey confirmed her death and submitted a statement about the beloved star, wife, mother, grandmother, pastor, and friend.

Downey shared that Della was like a mother to her. She also said Della will be forever in her heart.

CBS said in a statement that the network is sad to hear about the death of Reese. Executives said the star offered encouragement and optimism to millions of viewers who watched the award-winning show for nine seasons.

Her talent

Della Reese was a very talented woman. She began singing in her church when she was only six years. By the time she was 13, she was performing in a gospel group with Mahalia Jackson and toured with her later. She was also associated with other gospel singers like Erskine Hawkins, Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Cissy Houston, and Aretha Franklin.

Reese became a singing legend with her husky voice. Not only did she have a successful music career, she was also successful in television and movies. She became an ordained minister and pastor of her own church that she named Understanding Principles for Better Living. In ministry, Della used the name Rev. Della Reese-Lett. She said she didn't have a problem acting, singing and preaching.