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Bells Toll in Chicago as Thousands Pay Respects to Mayor Washington

November 28, 1987|United Press International

CHICAGO — Thousands of people standing in a steady rain lifted their voices in prayer Friday at a memorial service for Mayor Harold Washington, then lined up to file past his open coffin in the lobby of City Hall.

Church bells tolled as the hourlong ecumenical service for Washington--the city's first black mayor--began across the street from City Hall in Daley Center Plaza.

Hundreds of people waited in a line that wound around City Hall to pay their respects to the 65-year-old mayor, who died of a heart attack Wednesday in his office. He is to be buried Monday morning at Oak Woods Cemetery.

The mayor's fiancee, Mary Ella Smith, and his half brother, Ramon Price, were the first to file past the coffin, which lay on a bier surrounded by potted chrysanthemums and small flags. Uniformed policemen and firefighters formed an honor guard.

At the memorial service, an estimated 4,000 people jammed Daley Center Plaza to mourn, pray and sing. The Rev. B. Herbert Martin, the mayor's pastor, read Scripture to the throngs.

Mourners Line Route

Earlier, a 1988 gold-colored Cadillac hearse carried the mayor's body through the South Side neighborhoods that were the source of his greatest support. Mourners lined the route 10 deep in places.

Business halted in the city's usually frantic financial markets Friday as traders observed two minutes of silence.

The city's annual Christmas parade will go on as scheduled today, officials said, but it will be led by a riderless horse--the symbol of a fallen leader.

The city's Christmas tree, which was scheduled to be lit Friday by Washington, stood in the corner of Daley Center Plaza, still unlit. The lighting ceremony was postponed to honor the mayor.

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