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Jackson Leads Tribute at Rites for Washington

November 30, 1987|Associated Press

CHICAGO — Church bells rang throughout Chicago today for one minute as funeral services began for Harold Washington, the first black mayor of the nation's third-largest city, felled by a heart attack last week.

"The death angel can make the very important irrelevant in the winking of an eye," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said through tears. " 'How could he take Harold?' we ask. We are hurt, we need him so much. . . .

"We'll miss you, buddy. . . . We will not let you down."

Washington, 65, was able "to reach beyond ethnicity and make all of Chicago one," said Jackson, a civil rights leader and Democratic presidential contender who has joined talks aimed at naming Washington's successor.

'Won Against Odds'

"Harold won against the odds," he said. "He died of an enlarged heart, not a broken heart. He had to have the heart triple the size of a normal man, to snatch down barriers, to make this our kind of town."

Thousands of mourners, including schoolteachers and city employees, filled the nondenominational Christ Universal Temple for the 10 a.m. service. More than a dozen black limousines carried city, state and national dignitaries. Some people lined up shortly after midnight at the church.

Washington was a mayor who had been accessible to people, who would "stop on a street corner" to offer "a word, a laugh, a tear, a pat on the back, a grin of encouragement," Gov. James R. Thompson said.

Tribute by Governor

"When you were denounced by Harold, you were denounced," Thompson, a Republican, said as the somber crowd laughed softly. "He taught us all that there are still politicians who can feel passion for a cause."

Mayors W. Wilson Goode of Philadelphia, Edward I. Koch of New York City and Atlanta's Andrew Young joined U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and other congressional representatives for the services. Also attending were Washington's fiancee, Mary Ella Smith, family members of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and the entire City Council.

Washington's funeral today marked the end of a long weekend of grieving, which began when he died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack in his office. An autopsy showed his heart was triple normal size.

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