'Touched by an Angel' Star Roma Downey Posts Heartbreaking Tribute to Della Reese

Singer, actress and ordained minister Della Reese died Sunday evening at the age of 86, surrounded by friends and family in her California residence, according to a report from People.

Reese's impressive career spanned six decades—including a hit 1959 single "Don't You Know?" her own talk show in the '60s and a big role in the 1989 film Harlem Nights (also starring Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx).

But Reese is perhaps most well known for the success she achieved later in her career on the religious drama, Touched by an Angel. The series ran for nine seasons on CBS, from 1994-2003, and was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards, including two for Supporting Actress for Reese. Reese played Tess, an angel with a biting sense of humor who mentors and supervises the younger angel Monica, played by Roma Downey. Together, Tess and Monica delivered messages of God and Christianity to various people struggling with problems in their lives.

While Tess and Monica developed a close, mother/daughter-like bond onscreen, Reese and Downey developed a loving friendship offscreen. In the wake of her friend's death, Downey shared a moving tribute on Instagram: a still from her favorite Touched By An Angel scene, from Season 1 Episode 2, "Show Me the Way Home."

"I remember filming this scene and Della taking me into the warmth of her embrace," the now 57-year-old actress wrote in the caption. "To be in her arms was to feel love. I know Della has gone home to the peace of Heaven, but I'm going to miss her." Downey linked to Lightworkers website, the family and faith division of MGM of which she is president, where she posted a video of the Touched by an Angel scene.

Earlier on Monday, Downey announced the news of Reese's passing along with a photo, assuring that she died "peacefully at her California home surrounded by love."

"She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on Touched By An Angel," Downey wrote. Downey and Reese remained close in the years after the show ended—Reese (an ordained minister) even officiated Downey's wedding to television producer Mark Burnett in Malibu. Reese also spoke on Downey's behalf when the actress received her Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2016, describing how Downey helped her get through the painful death of her adopted daughter, Deloreese Daniels Owen.

In a statement to People, CBS also expressed sorrow at the loss of the network's former star:

"We're deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Della Reese. She was a multi-talented, award-winning performer who shined brightly on soundstages and in concert halls. For nine years, we were privileged to have Della as part of the CBS family when she delivered encouragement and optimism to millions of viewers as Tess on Touched By an Angel. We will forever cherish her warm embraces and generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed. Another angel has gotten her wings."