'To Kill a Mockingbird' author Harper Lee laid to rest in Alabama hometown

MONROEVILLE, Ala. -- The author of the America classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" was laid to rest Saturday, in a private ceremony attended by only the closest of friends and family, a reflection of how she had lived.

See Full Article

Harper Lee, who died Friday at age 89, was eulogized at a church in the small Alabama town of Monroeville, which the author used as a model for the imaginary town of Maycomb, the setting of Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

A few dozen people who comprised Lee's intimate circle gathered at the First United Methodist Church to hear a eulogy Saturday by her longtime friend and history professor, Wayne Flynt. Afterward, her casket was taken by silver hearse to an adjacent cemetery where her father, A.C. Lee and sister, Alice Lee, are buried.

Flynt, a longtime friend of Lee, said he delivered a eulogy that Lee specifically requested years ago. Entitled, "Atticus inside ourselves," the eulogy was written by Flint for a speech that he gave in 2006 as a tribute to Lee when she won the Birmingham Pledge Foundation Award for racial justice.

Flynt said Lee liked the speech so much that she wanted him to give it as her eulogy.

"I want you to say exactly that," Flynt quoted Lee as saying at the time. "Not one thing more, and not one thing less."

"If I deviated one degree, I would hear this great booming voice from heaven, and it wouldn't be God," Flynt said in an earlier interview.

Details of the service were fiercely guarded. Lee had wanted a quick and quiet funeral without pomp or fanfare, family members said.

"We obeyed her wishes," said Jackie Stovall, Lee's second cousin.

The town was appropriately sombre a day after their native daughter's death.

Ann Mote, owner of the Ol' Curiosities & Book Shoppe in Monroeville, said she thinks the town will always be linked to Lee.

Jared Anton, of Hollywood, Florida, sat outside the old courthouse in Monroeville during part of planned vacation through the South that coincided with Lee's death.

Anton said reading the book -- in which attorney Atticus Finch defends a wrongly accused African-American man -- was one reason he decided became a lawyer.

"It had an impact on me when I was younger. I wanted to do the right thing, to stand up to people, to defend the innocent if you will," Anton said. "It is the greatest American novel. Name one that really has had more of an impact on Americans than that book."

Mockingbirds chirped and frolicked among blooming camellia bushes outside the courthouse on a warm Alabama morning that teased the early arrival of spring.

The courthouse was where Lee as a child, like her creation Scout Finch, would peer down from the balcony as her father tried his cases in the courtroom. The southern town was home to childhood friends Truman Capote and Lee, giving rise to its self-given nickname of the literary capital of the South.

"She's a part of it and always will be," said Mote.

Tributes to Lee's novel dot the town. The courthouse is a museum that pays homage to her creation. There's the Mockingbird Inn on the edge of town and a statute of children reading, "Mockingbird" in the courthouse square.

Tickets for the city's annual "Mockingbird" play go on sale in a week for the city's annual "To Kill A Mockingbird" play, Mote said. A black mourning bow donned the top of the sign at the bookstore, where a stack of hardcopy "Mockingbird" books sat the counter along with a DVD of the movie.

The town this summer had a celebration for the release of "Go Set a Watchman" -- Lee's initial draft of the story that would become "Mockingbird" -- even though many residents had ambivalent feelings about its release.

Lee was largely unseen in her hometown in recent years, as she first sought privacy and then was secluded at an assisted living home. Security guards would shoo away the inevitable mix of reporters, curious onlookers and old acquaintances who were not on her list of approved visitors.

"You would see her around, but still we would honour her wishes of being a very private person. The impact from now forward, I think for the next few weeks we'll have an influx of people in here just looking around and at some point -- like when anybody passes away -- at some point it just returns back to normal," said Tim McKenzie, chairman of the museum's board of directors who also acts in the play.

McKenzie said the best way fans can honour the author's memory is by applying the values in Mockingbird to the way they treat others.

"That story, I'm glad it's in just about all the schools now because it's a story that everybody needs to hear," he said. "If you adhere to the values she put in that book, if everybody did, we'd be living in a much better world."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'Tapping into the comedy of couples': How Chuck Barris made TV that was ahead of its time

    Entertainment CBC News
    First, he had The Dating Game. Then came The Newlywed Game. And he followed it all up with the madcap mayhem that was The Gong Show. Sure, many have written off the game shows as mindless and low-brow. Source
  • Alex Trebek, Odd Squad among Canada's Daytime Emmy contenders

    Entertainment CBC News
    Alex Trebek, Jeopardy's man with all the answers, and Canadian kids programs Odd Squad, Annedroids and Dino Dan: Trek Adventures are among the latest nominees for the Daytime Emmy Awards. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences unveiled the contenders for the 44th annual daytime television honour on Wednesday. Source
  • TLC's 'No Scrubs' writers get added to Ed Sheeran hit 'Shape of You'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The songwriters behind TLC's 1999 megahit "No Scrubs" are now listed as co-writers of Ed Sheeran's No. 1 hit "Shape of You." On the website for performance rights organization ASCAP, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle aka Tiny and Kevin Briggs have been added as co-writers of "Shape of You," co-written by Sheeran, Steve Mac and John McDaid. Source
  • Mishael Morgan creates classic 'Young and the Restless' vixen

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS Donald Trump is not to be spoken of in Genoa City. I’m on the phone with Mishael Morgan, the 31-year-old Toronto-raised actress who has played resident she-devil Hilary Curtis on The Young and The Restless since the femme fatale stormed into town with a suitcase full of vendetta in 2013. Source
  • Our picks for casting 'Feud: Charles and Diana'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Emmy winner Ryan Murphy seems to have hit the nail on their well-coiffed heads with his brilliant casting of Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as battling rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in his juicy first instalment of FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, which is currently airing on Sunday nights. Source
  • 'Wheel of Fortune' fail: No, the play is not called 'A Streetcar Naked Desire'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    In the pantheon of "Wheel of Fortune" fails, one contestant's missed answer Tuesday night was pretty epic. With two blank spaces remaining, a player named Kevin guessed "C," leaving him with the following puzzle: A S T R E E T C A R N A _ E D D E S I R E Source
  • Katherine Jackson's nephew accuses Jermaine Jackson of masterminding elder abuse case

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Katherine Jackson’s nephew Trent Lamar Jackson has accused her son Jermaine of masterminding the elder abuse case against him. The 86-year-old obtained a restraining order against Trent, who worked as her driver and looked after finances and wellbeing, in February after she claimed he was “an abusive con man” who had been emotionally abusing her and trying to take control of her money for years. Source
  • 'Missing' Richard Simmons 'just wants time for himself': Brother

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Richard Simmons’ brother has assured fans the ‘missing’ fitness guru is safe and well. Richard became a household name in the ‘70s thanks to his eccentric personality and wardrobe choices and his dedication to getting people fit. Source
  • Missed, not missing: Richard Simmons' withdrawal sparks fascination

    Entertainment CBC News
    Officially, Richard Simmons is not missing. His publicist, manager, brother and two officers from the Los Angeles Police Department have all said the 68-year-old fitness guru is at his Hollywood Hills mansion and doing fine. Simmons said the same himself when he called into TV's Entertainment Tonight last year, explaining he was safe and well and that "it's time right now for Richard Simmons to take care of Richard Simmons. Source
  • Chuck Barris of 'Gong Show,' 'The Dating Game' dies at 87

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Chuck Barris, whose game show empire included “The Dating Game,” ”The Newlywed Game“ and that infamous factory of cheese, ”The Gong Show,“ has died. He was 87. Barris died of natural causes Tuesday afternoon at his home in Palisades, New York, according to publicist Paul Shefrin, who announced the death on behalf of Barris’ family. Source