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In Newark, residents were irritated to hear of criticism of the governor’s decision to honor Houston, who acknowledged her drug abuse in interviews.

Resident Anna Simpson said she admires Christie for honoring Houston because “if it were Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi, nobody would bat an eye.”

Simpson was at New Hope Baptist Church Wednesday, where Houston’s funeral will be held, to pay her respects on her way home from her airport job.

“She never forgot where she came from,” Simpson said. “She was real. We would see her and be like, ‘She’s one of ours,’ and she always made us proud, no matter what happened.”

After Houston became famous she continued to make regular trips to the public school she attended in East Orange and to which her family has directed donations be sent in lieu of flowers.

Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J., contributed to this report.