Numerous friends of the late country music superstar George Jones have remembered him for his kindness and love for his widow.

An overflow crowd paid respects to Jones on Thursday at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville during a public funeral. Several country stars and other notable figures sang and spoke during the nearly three-hour service.

12.45: It took just a few words of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" before all those gathered at the Grand Ole Opry House rose from their seats.

And, as Alan Jackson sang the final verse, he removed his white cowboy hat and held it over his heart.

"We love you George," he said.

Then, George Jones exited the Opry for the final time.

As his casket was taken up the center aisle, "When the Last Curtain Falls" played. People in the pews removed their hats as he passed. The thousands of fans in the balcony stood in respect. And the hush that hung in the hall before the service started, again resumed.

12:35 - Regardless of how the people gathered in the Grand Ole Opry House Thursday knew George Jones - whether it was as a husband, daddy, grandpa, friend or the greatest voice they had ever heard - Pastor Mike Wilson had this to say: "Life didn't stop for George on Friday, it started."

It's OK to cry, Wilson said. Jesus cried.

But Jones' memory will carry on.

When Wilson asked Jones' widow, Nancy, what he should share about Jones at Thursday's funeral, she looked at him with piercing eyes and said, "You tell everybody he was the best man they'll ever know."

12:20 - In her deep and commanding voice, Wynonna Judd captured love of the country music legend with a moving rendition of "How Great Thou Art. The song reverberated through the pews and caused those gathered in the Grand Ole Opry House to stand and applaud.

"Music gets us through, and in some ways helps lighten the burden," Wynonna said before she sang.

The first country music concert she ever saw was Merle Haggard and George Jones at age 14. Jones was a "stylist" she said.

"We have lost a national treasure," she said.

12:05 - George Jones' was the voice Kenny Chesney heard in his grandmother's kitchen or in the car.

One of the first Jones' songs Chesney ever heard was "Who's Gonna Chop My Baby's Kindling When I'm Gone?"

"He was a larger than life figure I thought I would never meet much less become friends with," he said.

Chesney said he loved Jones like a father. "I wanted to come here today to thank George for being George," he said. "For showing me how to be human."

In the car on the way to the funeral at the Grand Ole Opry House, Chesney said he played a lot of Jones' music. He played "Who's Gonna Chop My Baby's Kindling When I'm Gone?"

Before he left stage, Chesney looked at Jones' widow, Nancy, and said, "If you need help chopping kindling, I will be there."

12:00 - From his spot behind the piano, Ronnie Milsap sang "When the Grass Grows Over Me."

"So much of my life is spent listening to the radio and believe me you always hear George Jones on the radio," he said.

11:55 - Grand Ole Opry General Manager Pete Fisher and Gov. Mike Huckabee offered eulogies for Jones - telling funny stories about "the possum's" whine when having to do two shows at the Opry and solemnly reflecting on a man who had no pretense.

Huckabee said being part of saying goodbye to Jones is "one of the greatest honors of my life."

Jones was a voice for the people who were at the honky tonks Saturday night and in church Sunday morning, Huckabee said.

"He didn't sing to us, he sang for us," Huckabee said. He wasn't unapproachable. Like "cornbread and catfish," he related to the everyday person who came home at night bone tired.

"As long as there's a Grand Ole Opry and as long as people anywhere are singing country music George Jones' spirit will live on," Fisher said, blowing a kiss to Jones' family before he left the stage.

11:35 - Brad Paisley lived in a condo in Brentwood when he got his first horse.

George Jones, Paisley recalled, said "son, keep it on the farm."

Some of his favorite times, Paisley said, were seeing the "golden voice" coming driving up in a golf cart just wanting to talk.

Paisley said he was lucky enough to know Jones when he had gotten right and "beat the demons."

In honor of his relationship, Paisley sang "Me & Jesus."

11:28 - "Music is the accompaniment of our lives," former First Lady Laura Bush said, and no one made music like a man from East Texas, George Jones.

"He sang from his heart and his soul," she said.

On stage at the Opry, Bush recalled her days in school when "my friends and I must have put 1,000 quarters in the juke box to listen to 'The Race Is On.'"

She recounted the times when President George W. Bush would be working out on the treadmill rocking to "White Lightning."

And she reflected on the life she has spent walking with her own George, "In that walk, we have heard few sounds more lovely than the voice of George Jones."

11:15 -Side by side on stage, Vince Gill and Patty Loveless combined their powerful voices for "Go Rest High On That Mountain."

As emotion overtook Gill, the audience stood and applauded at the raw display of feeling. Loveless moved across the stage and gently placed an arm on Gill's shoulder and, after a touching guitar movement, the two voices again combined for powerful harmonies.

Before the performance, Gill shared his memories of Jones. And bad ravioli.

"My favorite memory of all," Gill said, "for some reason George thought I liked ravioli, and cases and cases of the worst ravioli you ever had in your life would end up on my bus."

Jones, Gill said, "taught all how to sing with a broken heart."

Loveless spoke directly to Jones' widow, Nancy, and said "I am just a phone call away, and I will be there for you. I love you."

11 a.m. - When Kid Rock visited Jones in his final days, Jones pulled off his mask and gave him a kiss.

"No matter what you got of George Jones you got the best of him," Kid Rock said.

In his husky rock voice, he sang "Best of Me" for Jones.

10:50 - The first time Barbara Mandrell met George Jones she was 13 and Jones was 30.

"He was a huge star, and I was just a girl who played steel guitar," Madrell recounted on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

After the first night performing before Jones, he asked her to back him up during part of his set.

"What a joy that memory is to me," Mandrell said.

Mandrell choked up recalling George singing his way on to stage from audience at the Opry.

"He completely captivated and thrilled," the audience, she said. Just as he did her.

"George left his lasting imprint on my heart, all of our hearts," Mandrell said. "He will always be revered, loved and treasured, and I miss him. I miss him so much."

"He sang for you and me," and now, she said, he is singing in glory for the one who created and gave him that voice.

10:45 - In the Spring of 1998, Travis Tritt found himself in Spain on a movie set with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson when the word came of the passing of Tammy Wynette.

Tritt looked at Kristofferson and said, "With all the years of hard living that George had, who would have ever thought that he would outlive Tammy."

And Kristofferson looked at Tritt and said, "Had it not been for Nancy, he would not have."

On stage at the Opry, Tritt recounted the story saying, "George said it many times, 'She's my angel and she saved my life.'"

Then, with his fingers picking the strings, the soulful singer said thank you to Jones' widow, Nancy, and dedicated the song "Why Me Lord."

10:35 - From beneath the brim of his white hat, Charlie Daniels spoke of George Jones as a man who "stood head and shoulders above the fray."

"And we all loved him for it."

And then, in tribute to Jones, Daniels picked up a guitar and sang "Softly and Tenderly."

"As long as there is country music he will be remembered," Daniels said. "We are going to miss you, Mr. Jones."

10:30 - It only took 30 minutes for Jones' infamous lawnmower story to come up, courtesy of CBS News' Bob Schieffer.

10:27 - Bob Schieffer first heard George Jones the same way so many others did - on the radio on Saturday in a town in Texas.

"In my neighborhood we didn't call it country music, we called it music," Schieffer said. "We didn't know there was anything else."

Through the radio, a person could feel Jones' sincerity.

"I think it was the honesty in George's voice that gave him such universal appeal," Schieffer said.

He knew about heartbreak, disappointment and betrayal. "He was more than a country singer, he was a country song," he said.

Schieffer, moderator of "Face of the Nation," interviewed Jones. At that time, Schieffer had the feeling life of the country legend was a "surprise to (Jones) and he never quite believed any of it."

"God made just one like him," Schieffer said of Jones, "but aren't we glad he did.

10:25 - In a gentle voice, a guitar on his lap, Randy Travis sang "Amazing Grace."

"When I heard him do this song it literally gave me chills," Travis said.

It took only a few notes for those gathered in the Opry to offer respectful applause for the Oak Ridge Boys, who connected in stirring harmony of "Farther Along."

Their deep vocals resonated inside the hall, vibrating the pews and moving those gathered inside.

10:13 - "It's not a goodbye. It's an 'I'll see you soon,'" said Pastor Mike Wilson.

10:09 a.m. - Governor Bill Haslam recalled going to the only country music bar in Tokyo, and immediately heard the band playing a Jones song - which "speaks volumes about a man whose fame is known literally around the world."

"Tennessee will never stop loving George Jones," he said.

Jones, he said, was known for having a "voice of gold," but even more than that he was known for his "incredible ability to connect."

He made a person believe the words he said were part of the heart. That bond he formed with fans made an impression.

"George is a person who has changed the trajectory of how people think about our state," Haslam said.

10 a.m. - Silence.

Then, center stage, Tanya Tucker's voice fills the Grand Ole Opry House. The poem she recites resonates with the words she feels George Jones would say if he could.

"Don't grieve for me," she says, "for now I am free."

With The Imperials by her side, Tucker then took a microphone in hand and sang "Old Rugged Cross." The song was the opening hymn for a public funeral service to honor the departed country legend.