Kenny Rogers' widow, Wanda Rogers, is opening up about the final day of her music legend husband's life, and how the simple, sweet activities they shared that day brought her comfort.
Rogers, who died on March 20, 2020, spent his final day at home with his wife, watching movies and eating his favorite treat: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.
In her first interview since his death, Wanda tells People that she made journal entries that last day, hoping to help herself remember every minute.
"I still get choked up reading it, but it does give me happiness that it was a day full of ice cream and movies," she reflects.
Wanda and Rogers were together for nearly three decades: They got married in 1997 and welcomed twin sons, Justin and Jordan, in 2004. Now 19 years old, the boys were a big part of Rogers' final days, too.
"With him passing away at home, you don't know how it affects kids. And Justin said the next morning, 'Mom, one thing about dad passing away at home ...' And I thought, 'Uh oh,'" she continues. "And he said, 'His sweet spirit will be here forever.' And I was like, 'High five to that. Yes, it absolutely will.'"
Down-to-earth family activities were big in the Rogers household, despite the fact that he was an international, cross-genre superstar. Wanda remembers a tradition that he and her sons called "Super Saturday," in which he would take Justin and Jordan out for a McDonald's breakfast, a stop at the car wash and a meal at Chuck E. Cheese.
"You would think Kenny was the most average guy. He was never pretentious, and he sort of taught [the boys] that. He never needed any special attention," she recollects.
"I miss his love, his support. I miss his touch. I miss everything about him," Wanda relates. "I wish we could have that one last conversation just to say, 'Are you good? Are you okay?'"
She acknowledges the pain of continuing to grow as a family without him. Justin and Jordan recently graduated high school — a milestone Rogers wasn't alive to see — and even little things make her wish he could still be there. She recounts how taking her sons on their first deep-sea fishing trip brought up pain and guilt about experiencing special family moments without her late husband.
"I felt like Kenny should be there," she confesses. "It really gets me still."
Still, the family takes comfort in signs that Rogers is still with them, even if he's not physically there. "There are little red birds around our house, and we can be talking about Kenny and one will land right in the balcony looking in the window. Everywhere we go, it's red birds," she describes.
"One thing [fellow country star and good friend of Rogers] Lionel [Richie] said was, 'You don't have to ask for signs. It may not come right away, but you will get signs.' And that's ours," she adds.
PICTURES: See Inside Kenny Rogers' Staggering California Estate
Kenny Rogers developed a taste for fine living early in his success. His ultra-lavish mansion in Bel Air, Calif., an estate called Lionsgate, was opulent even by celebrity standards. The 11-bedroom, 17-bathroom home totals 23,988 square feet of space, and it sits on 1.63 acres of some of the most expensive real estate in California.
The lavish interior includes a master suite that encompasses more than 3,000 square feet, three separate living rooms, seven fireplaces, a billiards room, a formal study, a private 12-seat theater with leather seats, a climate-controlled wine room that opens onto a saltwater pool, three steam showers and a large dry sauna. The property also features an outdoor glass elevator that leads to a large ballroom party space with an attached guest suite and a professional-sized gym.
The exterior of the house is just as lavish, including an outdoor living area with heated floors and a fully equipped bar, a tennis court with stadium lighting and a viewing area, a hot tub and extensive landscaping. Realtor.com
calls Lionsgate the "most prestigious luxury estate" in Bel Air, boasting "possibly the best views in Los Angeles."
According to Business Insider
, Rogers purchased the estate in the 1970s, and he added the lions to the gate and christened the home Lionsgate. He sold it in 1983 for $5.8 million, according to Variety
, and the property most recently sold in 2015 for a staggering $46.25 million.
PICTURES: See Inside Kenny Rogers' Jaw-Dropping Atlanta Mansion
Kenny Rogers' 6-bedroom, 6-bathroom, 6,9991-square-foot mansion in the high-dollar area of Buckhead in Atlanta was absolutely spectacular. Highlights include a striking two-story entryway and sweeping staircase leading to very formal living and dining rooms. There is also a large eat-in kitchen with booth seating, and the great room features a 20-foot ceiling.
Other amenities include a massive upstairs master suite that includes its own fireplace, separate sitting room, luxurious bathroom and a massive walk-in closet. The luxurious home also features guest suites, a screening room, a full-sized bar, a game room and more. Ornate arched doors, oversized windows throughout and stunning trims, light fixtures and ceilings add to the luxurious feel of the stately home, which Rogers listed for $4,495,000 in 2019.
PICTURES: See Inside Kenny Rogers' Palatial Atlanta Estate
Rogers' 13,000-square-foot estate outside of Atlanta featured 6 bedrooms, 8 full and 4 half bathrooms.
The opulent mansion features wrought iron entry gates and a spacious two-story foyer with matching curved staircases, as well as elegant and very formal living and dining rooms. There's an enormous eat-in kitchen with a massive double island, along with 10 fireplaces scattered throughout the residence. The mind-boggling manor also boasts a conservatory, a combination family room and game room with its own full bar and a private movie theater with stadium seating.
The mansion's gigantic master suite comprises two walk-in closets with private dressing rooms, as well as a vast formal bathroom with brass fixtures and marble floors. There's also a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment above the garage, which could serve as extra space for visiting family or live-in staff members.
Rogers purchased the luxurious Mediterranean estate in 2012 for $1.5 million. He sold it for $2.383 million in 2018.
See Inside Kenny Rogers' Staggering California Mansion: