An overflow crowd representing Hollywood and Harlem and points in between paid final respects to actor and activist Ossie Davis on Saturday in a three-hour-plus service that featured musical accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis.
Davis’s wife of 56 years, actress Ruby Dee, sat in the front row of Manhattan’s Riverside Church, near where her husband’s coffin stood covered in flowers, reports the Associated Press. Mourners included former president Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Cornel West, Rachel Robinson and outgoing NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.
Speaking of Davis, who died Feb. 4 in a Miami Beach hotel room while on location for a movie, Clinton said: “I have only this to say: Like most of you here, he gave more to me than I gave to him.”
Entertainer Harry Belafonte, a friend for six decades, delivered the eulogy for Davis, who was 87.
“It is hard to fathom that we will no longer be able to call on his wisdom, his humor, his loyalty and his moral strength to guide us in the choices that are yet to be made and the battles that are yet to be fought,” Belafonte said. “But how fortunate we were to have him as long as we did.”
“Ossie was my hero, and he still is,” said Alan Alda, a friend of the family for 44 years. “Ossie was a thing of beauty.”