Entries in Funeral (31)


Memorial Services Held for Firefighter Killed in Christmas Eve Ambush

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- Memorial services were held Sunday afternoon in upstate New York for one of the firefighters killed in an ambush on Christmas Eve.

Mourners gathered near Rochester to remember 43-year-old Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini, a volunteer firefighter in West Webster, New York, who was also a 20-year veteran of the Webster Police Department. Chiapperini was killed, along with colleague Tomasz Kaczowka, early Christmas Eve morning when an ex-convict started a fire and shot the men as they arrived to the scene before taking his own life.

Kaczowka's funeral is set for Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Neil Armstrong to Have Private Funeral Friday

NASA(WASHINGTON) -- Neil Armstrong, remembered after his death Saturday as a quiet man, is to have a quiet funeral on Friday near his Cincinnati home, NASA confirmed Monday. The service is to be private, though Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who called Armstrong “a good friend and adviser,” will be there for a eulogy. While there have been discussions of a national memorial service, nothing has been confirmed yet.

The White House issued a proclamation Monday afternoon that flags would fly at half-staff on Friday. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Armstrong’s birth place of Wapakoneta, Ohio, plans a tribute Wednesday night; Purdue University in Indiana, where he studied engineering, announced a late-afternoon memorial to take place Monday.  Streaming video of the service can be found on the Purdue website.

So far everything is in keeping with his family’s description of him -- “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”

Armstrong -- who commanded the world’s attention in 1969 when he became the first human being to walk on the moon -- died Saturday of complications following heart surgery.  His family would not say where he died, though he had spent the last several decades in his native Ohio.

There were tributes from around the world -- from President Obama and Mitt Romney, from fellow astronauts and celebrities -- but his family asked people to dispense with words.

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty,” they said in their statement announcing his death, “and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mary Kennedy's Body Released Amid Family Feud  

Mary Richardson Kennedy and her son, Conor Kennedy, in 2009. Jason Kempin/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The body of Robert Kennedy Jr.'s wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, was released by authorities to a funeral home Friday amid a family struggle over burial rights.

The body was released after her estranged husband got a court order directing the Westchester County medical examiner turn over the body to the Clark Associates Funeral Home. Clark Associates has been preparing for a funeral at Kennedy's request.

The Medical Examiner's office had refused to release Kennedy's body to Clark Associates because Mary Kennedy's siblings and her estranged husband's family were fighting over where she would be buried, multiple sources told ABC News.

Clark Associates expects a private wake either Friday night or Saturday morning at one of the family's homes, and then a funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday. The location was not disclosed.

The Kennedys planned to bury her near the Kennedy family's compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on Cape Cod.

Mary Kennedy, 52, died Wednesday of asphyxiation from hanging at her home in Westchester County, N.Y., according to the medical examiner. Kennedy and her husband, Robert Kennedy, Jr., had been separated since 2010 but were not legally divorced.

Mary Kennedy's brothers and sister, however, are planning a sunset memorial Monday night at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan. Mary Kennedy grew up in New Jersey, where her father was a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Her mother lived in Bayonne, N.J., until her death.

"The first task is for Mary's family to take her to her final resting place, with the dignity and love she deserves," her siblings wrote in a statement released today.

None of Mary Kennedy's family returned calls from ABC News for comment on their sister's death. They released the statement to combat what they saw as a mischaracterization of their sister in news reports following her death, they wrote.

"She was generous, thoughtful, with a refined aesthetic, genius organizational abilities, boundless energy, physical stamina, and natural elegance. She laughed a lot. Her enthusiasms were deep. She loved to connect people, with no self-interest, and with great intelligence," the statement read.

Following her death, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., told the New York Times that his estranged wife had been struggling with depression.

"A lot of times I don't know how she made it through the day," Kennedy, Jr., told the newspaper. "She was in a lot of agony for a lot of her life."

The pair had broken up in 2010 and Mary Kennedy faced difficulties with alcohol during the intervening years. She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs on two different occasions.

The couple had four children together.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mary Richardson Kennedy's Body at Center of Family Dispute

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- A dispute is brewing between Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the family of his estranged wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, over where she will be memorialized and laid to rest.

Mary Kennedy's body was found on Wednesday in an outbuilding on the couple's property in Bedford, N.Y.  She died of asphyxiation by hanging, New York's Westchester County Medical Examiner's office announced Thursday.

The Kennedys were planning to hold a wake for Mary Kennedy on Friday at the family's mansion in Bedford, with funeral services to follow Saturday morning at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Bedford.

Her family, however, wants a private memorial service in Manhattan.

There are also reports that the Kennedys want Mary Kennedy to be buried in Hyannisport, Mass., where the Kennedy family has long resided.

The medical examiner has refused to release Mary Kennedy's body until the dispute is resolved.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FAMU Hazing Suspects Escorted Robert Champion's Casket at Funeral

The Champion Family(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Three of the Florida A&M University band members charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion were fellow drum majors who escorted his casket as an honor guard at his November funeral.

A lawyer for the Champion family also said that several drum majors called Champion's mother after his death to express remorse -- but not guilt.

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after a football game.

The death was ruled a homicide, and Champion's torso was covered with bruises that were inflicted during a brutal hazing ritual that contributed to his death, according to investigators.

Last week, Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar announced charges brought against 13 individuals in connection with Champion's death.

Among those charged with felony hazing were Jonathan Boyce, 24, Shawn Turner, 26, and Rikki Wills, 24, all fellow drum majors. They were among five drum majors who led Champion's funeral march, escorting his casket during the funeral.

"I can confirm that some of the people arrested were part of the funeral," Champion family attorney Christopher Chestnut told ABC News Monday. Chestnut was present at Champion's Nov. 30 funeral.

When asked about Boyce, Turner and Wills, Chestnut said, "Yes, they were drum majors that participated in the funeral."

Champion's mother Pam Champion received phone calls of condolences from FAMU drum majors in the days following her son's death.

"We can't disclose who, but some of the drum majors reached out to her and although they experienced remorse and admitted to being present, their story just didn't add up," Chestnut said.

The news that the very men who marched in front of her son's casket were the ones who allegedly beat him to death on a bus has caused Pam Champion to reconsider the phone calls she received.

"Is she surprised? No. Is she appalled? Yes," Chestnut said. "Was the initial call that appeared to be sincere really insincere? It has caused her to question many of the motives."

The three drum majors were among 11 defendants who turned themselves in to law enforcement after being charged with felony hazing last week. The last of the 11 turned herself in on Sunday. Most have bonded out of jail while the case makes its way through the system.

FAMU's on-campus news network, FAMU TV 20, posted a video of Rikki Wills speaking to their reporter at Champion's funeral. Wills called Champion the most "thoughtful and considerate person I've ever met in my life" and said it was a "pleasure" to know him.

"If anybody else had a relationship like I did with Robert, one thing you would remember about Robert is that he was always smiling, just always smiling and nodding," Wills said. "And I'm going to stick with that in my head for my memory of Robert."

The Champion family alleged last week that there was a "calculated conspiracy" to cover up their son's death.

"We have heard that alumni were communicating with students on that bus, telling them how to respond, what to say, what not to say in order to ensure that no one would be arrested and charged for murder. That is simply inexcusable," Chestnut said at a news conference last week.

The family has expressed anger at the fact that none of the students on the bus were ever put on academic probation or arrested. Four students were briefly suspended, but they were allowed to go back to school. The school's band director Julian White was fired, but later reinstated and put on administrative leave.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hundreds Mourn Death of Unarmed 19-Year-Old Shot by Pasadena Police

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ALTADENA, Calif.) -- Hundreds of family members, friends and supporters attended a funeral service on Saturday for the 19-year-old unarmed college student who was killed by two Pasadena police officers in March, the Los Angeles Times reports.

About 400 people showed up to the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Altadena to honor Kendrec "Mac" McDade, who was shot on March 24. The FBI announced on Friday that it would open a civil rights investigation into the case. McDade's family has already filed a wrongful death and civil rights complaint against the city, and The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have expressed concerns about the shooting.

The officers involved in the shooting were identified as Mathew Griffin and Jeff Newlen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Killed, 12 Wounded in Drive-By Shooting at Funeral Home

ABC News(MIAMI) -- Gunmen opened fire on mourners leaving the funeral of a 22-year-old shooting victim, killing two people and wounding 12 others, including a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the leg, Miami-Dade police said on Saturday.

The shooting occurred around 9 p.m. on Friday, outside the Funeraria Latina Emanuel in North Miami. About 100 people were in the parking lot when gunmen in a passing car fired shots into the crowd, witnesses told ABC affiliate WPLG-TV in Miami.

“People were going crazy, screaming, running. It was just chaos,” Pastor Ad Lenoir told WPLG.

“The service was going on, nice, people was crying, talking, and suddenly someone pass by, start shooting,” funeral attendee Jacques Leonet said. “It’s more than crazy. They are destroying the community. No future. That’s all that it’s about.”

One person was declared dead at the scene and another died after being taken to the hospital, police said.

The 5-year-old girl was listed in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital Ryder Trauma Center.

“She was struck in the leg,” Lenoir said. “It was very sad and painful to see a little child go through something that traumatic. It was very horrible.”

“I grabbed her so we could go and she was screaming and I’m like why are you screaming, I thought she was scared,” the girl’s mother, Someta Etienne, told WSVN-TV. “Then I saw the blood coming from her pants.”

According to WSVN-TV, Miami-Dade police were looking for six suspects and have said the vehicle involved was a white 2006 or 2009 Pontiac or Impala.

“It’s too early to tell what the motive may be, if anything the person they were viewing had anything to do with it,” Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family and Friends Send Whitney Houston Home

Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- Two of the most important women in Whitney Houston's life, her mother Cissy Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, were joined by mourners at an invitation-only "home going" ceremony at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Saturday.

Kevin Costner remembered his The Bodyguard co-star as someone who shared the same interests and values. Both grew up in the Baptist church, a bond he said they shared over the years of their friendship.

Costner recalled Houston's nervousness when she had to do a screen test for the role of singer Rachel Marron in the movie. "The Whitney I knew was still wondering if I'm good enough. Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?" he said. "It was what made her great, and what caused her to stumble at the end."

A tearful Alicia Keyes remembered how Houston would reach out to young artists. "[She] made us feel strong and capable and loved," Keyes said before she sang "Send Me an Angel."

Houston's longtime friend and mentor, record executive Clive Davis, said a talent like Houston's was rare. "You wait for a voice like that for a lifetime. You wait for a face like that, a smile like that, a presence like that for a lifetime," he said. "When one person embodies it all, it takes your breath away."

Stevie Wonder also performed a rousing tribute to the star, on whom he said he had a crush.  He performed a version of "Ribbon in the Sky" with new lyrics all about Whitney, as well as "Love's in Need of Love Today." 

Singer R. Kelly performed "I Look to You," the song he'd written for Whitney's 2009 album of the same name.  Gospel star Kim Burrell performed a version of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," with lyrics rewritten to reflect Whitney's life.  Gospel star Donnie McClurkin performed the song "Stand."  Fellow gospel stars BeBe and CeCe Winans also performed.

Actor/director Tyler Perry addressed the crowd, reminiscing about the first time he met Houston in Atlanta.

Aretha Franklin, who had been confirmed as a performer, said Saturday that she was not able to sing at the funeral because of a medical problem.

Singer Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston's cousin, acknowledged Franklin, who is Houston's godmother, from the pulpit and said she felt her presence in the room.  She later said in a statement, "Regretfully, I am so sorry that I was unable to be with you at Whitney's  service today.  I had every intention of being there. But unfortunately I had terrible leg spasms and locked leg muscles until 4:00AM this morning following my concert last night, which I've been having for the last few days. I feel it necessary and very important to stay off  my leg today as much as possible until concert time this evening."  She added, "My heart goes out to my dear friend Cissy, Dionne, Bobbi Kristina and the rest of the family.  May God keep them all."

Whitney's ex-husband, Bobby Brown was present at the service, but then left.  In a statement, he said, "My children and I were invited to the funeral...We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move.  Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene."  He added, "This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur.” I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.” 

The singer will be buried Sunday in Westfield N.J.'s Fairview Cemetery. She will be laid to rest next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

On Friday night, members of Houston's family and inner circle were seen getting out of gold limousines for a private viewing at a funeral home. Among them were Bobbi Kristina, Cissy Houston and Davis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whitney Houston's Funeral: Stars Expected to Attend, Speak

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImageUPDATE: Whitney Houston will be buried Sunday in Westfield, N.J.'s Fairview Cemetery, a law enforcement source told ABC News on Friday. She will be laid to rest next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

Her burial will be one day after her Saturday funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church.

(NEW YORK) -- Though Whitney Houston's funeral will be a private, invite-only affair, it will reportedly feature some of the biggest celebrities the late pop icon worked with, including Kevin Costner.

Costner, Houston's Bodyguard co-star, will speak at the service held at Newark, N.J.'s New Hope Baptist Church starting at noon on Saturday, People magazine reported Thursday. Representatives for Houston and Costner did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at the service, and Houston's record producer from the start of her career, Clive Davis, will also speak.

Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, has denied reports that he was being barred from the services by Houston's family but has yet to confirm that he will be there.

He has been by the side of his daughter with Houston, Bobbi Kristina, since Sunday.  She was hospitalized for stress and anxiety after Houston's Saturday death.

One of Houston's family members told ABC News that while many people in the family don't want Brown to attend the funeral, they can't stop him because of his connection with Bobbi Kristina.

But it appears that soon after the funeral, he'll strike off on his own.  A rep for his band, New Edition, said Thursday that Brown will perform a scheduled concert at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino on Saturday night.

Multiple celebrities are rumored to be attending.  The Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey reported Thursday that Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby will be at the services. It was also reported that Elton John would attend but John's representatives denied it to ABC News.

The Revs. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are attending. Others confirmed on the guest list are Chaka Khan, Bebe and CeCe Winans, songwriter Diane Warren, pop singer Darlene Love, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Brandy and Ray J, the singer Houston was rumored to be in a relationship with before her death.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whitney Houston's Doctors to Be Investigated

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Investigators will be looking into doctors who wrote multiple sedative prescriptions for Whitney Houston as they try to determine the cause of the singer's death.

Los Angeles County Coroner's Office Assistant Chief Ed Winter told ABC News the office is "conducting an investigation and will try to obtain medical records from her doctors."

The coroner said on Sunday the autopsy on Houston was complete, but results would not be finalized pending toxicology reports, which could take up to eight weeks.

On Monday, Beverly Hills police revealed that Houston was found "underwater and unconscious" in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room Saturday afternoon.  Prescription drugs were found nearby.  Photographs published by TMZ show bottles of champagne and beer in the adjacent room and on the floor next to the tub where she died.

ABC News confirmed on Monday that Houston's aunt, Mary Jones, found her in the bathtub and tried to revive her before paramedics arrived at the scene.

The 48-year-old singer will be laid to rest after a private, invitation-only funeral service in New Jersey on Saturday that will not take place at the Prudential Center arena, the owner of the funeral home making her arrangements announced on Tuesday.

"Whitney Houston's funeral will be held at noon on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark," Carolyn Wigham, the owner of the Wigham Funeral Home, told reporters.  New Hope is the same church where Houston honed her powerful voice in the choir.

Wigham said that Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, was at the funeral home until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.  She "made it clear that a funeral must be inside a church," and that the Prudential Center, where members of Houston's family had said a public memorial for the singer was in the works, was not an appropriate venue.

Houston's body arrived in New Jersey via private jet and gold-colored hearse Monday night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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