Hundreds of mourners packed Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday to pay their last respects to Elizabeth Edwards, 61, who died at home last Tuesday. This is the same church where Edwards’ son Wade, who died in a car crash at age 16, was memorialized.
A Letter From The Grave
During a tearful funeral, her oldest daughter Cate, 28, read from a letter that the dying Edwards had written to her three children: “For all I have said about life, I want you to know that all I ever really needed was you – your love, your presence – to make my life complete.”
John Edwards Remains Silent
The two younger children, Emma, 12 and Jack, 10, sat in the front row with their father, one-time Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards. He did not speak. The mourners included Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who in 2004 picked John Edwards as his running mate in an unsuccessful bid for the White House.
The funeral opened with a eulogy from Elizabeth Edwards’ longtime friend Hargrave McElroy, who made the audience laugh with tales of Elizabeth’s competitive nature, particularly with games. She also noted Edwards’ love of Christmas, describing how the Edwards family, including John Edwards, decorated their Christmas tree last Saturday, just three days before she died after a long battle with breast cancer at the age of 61.
In addition to McElroy’s eulogy, another friend, Glenn Bergenfield, and Edwards’ daughter Cate were expected to speak.
Others expected to attend included North Carolina Gov. Ben Perdue; U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina); Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy; John Podesta, a former Clinton administration chief of staff and current head of the Center for American Progress; members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation; and more than 100 former campaign staffers.
It was a public ceremony because Edwards was known for insisting, much to the dismay of staffers, that all of her events be open to the public, according to a friend. Supporters say that even though a public funeral might usher some chaos to the event, this is what Edwards would have wanted.
Westboro Baptist Church Protest Fizzles Out
Another group of mourners gathered a few blocks away from the church, ready for a counter-demonstration against picketers from Westboro Baptist Church. Care2′s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux wrote here on Thursday about the decision of this controversial and decidedly unChristian group of people to picket Edwards’ funeral.
This so-called religious group of churchgoers from Kansas is well known for its extremist opposition to homosexuals, Jews, and any number of other groups. They regularly holds protests at funerals for U.S. service members who have died, saying the war’s dead are God’s punishment for the country tolerating gays and lesbians.
But the whole protest fizzled out, as only five Westboro congregants showed up for the protest.
That could be the only bright side of a very sad day.
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