Motown legend SMOKEY ROBINSON kept a heartbreaking secret from his dying sister – to give her the will to live out her final days in peace.
And the R&B singer was at her bedside when 82-year-old Rose Ella Jones, who helped write some of his earliest hits, passed away.

"Rose Ella was diagnosed with stomach cancer a year ago, but Smokey and the rest of the family made the decision not to tell her," a close family member told The ENQUIRER.

"She’d been a nurse by profession, and they feared that if she knew how ill she was, she might give up. Their plan worked. Rose Ella never realized she had any problem other than getting old, and remained in good spirits almost to the end."

Smokey, 70, was close to Rose Ella all his life, and credited his big sis with helping him write several hits, including "Quiet Storm" and "Virgin Man."

Smokey’s other hits include "Tears of a Clown" and "I Second That Emotion."

To his joy, Rose Ella lived long enough to see him honored by the Kennedy Center, and coach the 2009 American Idol contestants.

She’d been cared for by her daughter Stacye at a senior living facility, and died in a West Los Angeles hospital on April 26.

"As the family gathered at her bedside, she called Smokey ‘my baby brother’ and told him and the others, ‘Be strong,’" said the family member.

"In the end, everyone left Smokey alone with the sister he loved so much. He was the last to say goodbye, and it was a very emotional farewell. He’s heartbroken."