Garcia Given Final Standing Ovation at Private Funeral
After days of impromptu memorials, a private funeral was held Friday afternoon for Jerry Garcia in a church that shares the name of one of the Grateful Dead’s most beloved songs.
Family, close friends and band members gathered at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for a service that ended with one final standing ovation for the legendary band leader.
As word of the funeral leaked, the media converged on the small town about 10 miles north of San Francisco. Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey, Bruce Hornsby and basketball great Bill Walton were among the mourners.
Kesey and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter were among those who spoke at the 90-minute service, said band publicist Dennis McNally, who handed out portions of Hunter’s eulogy.
“If some part of that music is heard in deepest dream, or on some breeze of summer a snatch of golden theme, we’ll know you live inside us with love that never parts, our good old Jack o’ Diamonds become the King o’ Hearts,” one portion read.
Garcia’s casket was open, and he was clad in his signature black T-shirt and black sweats, McNally said. The family has not said if he will be buried or cremated.
Garcia died Wednesday at Serenity Knolls, a drug rehabilitation center in Marin County. A Marin County coroner’s investigator said the cause of death cannot be determined until toxicology tests come back, which could take two weeks, but added that early findings point to natural causes.
The decision to hold the service at St. Stephen’s, which overlooks tranquil Belvedere Lagoon, had nothing to do with the name, McNally said.
“Saint Stephen,” written by Garcia and Robert Hunter, is among the band’s most popular songs, though it was rarely played in concert.
Some of its lyrics--”Saint Stephen will remain, all he’s lost he shall regain”--were sure to resonate for fervent fans who have held impromptu memorials since Garcia’s death.
As the service closed, the Rev. Matthew Fox, who conducted Garcia’s wedding on Valentine’s Day a year ago, asked the audience of about 250 to give the guitarist-composer-singer one last standing ovation, McNally said.
The roar could be heard outside.
A makeshift memorial at 710 Ashbury St. in San Francisco, where the band was born in 1964, was littered with flowers, candles and five marijuana joints.
Garcia, a diabetic, had battled drug addiction and weight for years. The band made its name at the LSD parties thrown by Kesey.
In Washington, President Clinton expressed hope Garcia’s death would help steer young people away from “self-destructive behavior” like drug abuse.
Clinton, in an interview with MTV, said he and his 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, represent two generations of Grateful Dead fans.
“He was just a great talent,” Clinton said. “He was a genius.”
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