Roger Ebert Remembered for 'Big Heart' at Funeral

'He was one of us,' said Mayor Rahm Emanuel

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 8, 2013 2:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A huge crowd attended Roger Ebert's funeral today at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, where friends, family, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel paid tribute to the country's most famous film critic, the Chicago Tribune reports. "He had a heart big enough to accept and love all," said Chaz Ebert, his wife for more than 20 years. "It didn't matter to him your race, creed, color, level of ability, sexual orientation." She made the audience laugh when talking about her veiled black hat: "He loved this hat. That's why I wore it today." Among other remarks:

  • "We trusted Roger because he was one of us," said Emanuel. "Roger spent his time sitting through bad movies so we wouldn't have to."
  • "He's going to live on in every writer who believes that big ideas can be conveyed to and enjoyed by the masses," said film critic Matt Fagerholm.
  • "I'm happiest when I think of how he and my mother found each other," said stepdaughter Sonia Evans, holding back tears. The Atlantic reports that she added, "Roger I want to thank you for nothing more than for being you. You gave yourself, completely genuinely and we are all forever grateful."
  • "He was always happy, would sit and talk with anyone," said a woman who remembered having a drink with Ebert years ago. "He was just a fun-loving guy, and down-to-earth."
  • Jesse Jackson's son, Jonathan Jackson, quoted his father as saying Ebert "understood that a community without culture is an untenable idea that will surely destroy us all." The younger Jackson called him "a soldier with a pen."

Chaz Ebert, center, wife of film critic Roger Ebert leaves Holy Name Cathedral after his funeral in Chicago, April 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Mourners line up in the rain to attend film critic Roger Ebert's funeral at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Monday, April 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Mourners arrive before film critic Roger Ebert's funeral at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Monday, April 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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