Friends and families gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA on Saturday, August 9, 2014 to share their remembrances of Paula Kent Meehan, the co-founder of Redken Laboratories, who passed away at her home on June 23, 2014 at 82. The choice of August 9 was especially significant as it is Meehan’s birthday.
Ruta Lee and Debbie Reynolds, who introduced herself as “Princess Laia’s mother.”Lee sang "You'll Never Know": "You went away and my heart went with you."
The invitation to the memorial read, “Let’s celebrate Paula’s life with love and laughter. That’s what friends are for.” There were jokes, songs, some tears but more smiles. Her longtime friends, Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee, were emcees and they shared warm memories of Paula, going back to grade school. Reynolds, an actress and entertainer, was perhaps Meehan’s oldest friend and Lee became close to Meehan through their shared commitment to The Thalians, a charity dedicated to supporting mental health treatment.
Florence Henderson, famous for her role as Mom to a big brood on “The Brady Bunch” , sang a rousing rendition of “One Singular Sensation” from the musical “A Chorus Line.”
Reynolds read a poem she had written with Meehan in mind. “Now it’s on to a new life and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead, I’m looking forward to a new life but my past life will be hard to beat.”
Meehan’s son, Michael Miller, thanked everyone who organized and attended. “It’s a wonderful tribute to my mother on her birthday and I’m very grateful to you all.”
Longtime Redken spokesperson Ann Mincey Jetton shared one of Meehan’s favorite poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Everything that should come to you will come to you through open and winding passages.”
Actress and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley also stood to speak. “Many pass through our lives but some stay and leave footprints on our hearts. I’ll never forget Paula’s friendship, generosity, brilliance and love,” said Mobley. “Friends should not cry when we lose someone dear but we should smile because we had them. So every day when I think of my Paula, I try to give the world’s biggest smile.”
Actress/entertainer Jo Anne Worley helped everyone laugh, with some jokes, songs and her trademark zaniness and actress Anne Jeffreys, at 91, expressed her admiration for Meehan.
At the end and together, guests sang a favorite song of Meehan's:
"Keep smiling, Keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure.
That's what friends are for."