The Funeral of Senator Claiborne Pell

The Funeral of Senator Claiborne Pell





A historic ceremony in a town that celebrates its history every day, the funeral service for Senator Claiborne DaBorda Pell was a dignified and traditional event held in the historic Trinity Church. The first church was built in 1700. The present structure was built in 1725-26, designed by local builder Richard Munday, who based his designs on those that he had seen that Sir Christopher Wren had used in London churches in the late 17th century. It is the landmark church in Newport.


Mourners lined up outside and around the block to be part of the service, and pay their last respects to the great Senator. Many had received their educations from Pell Grants, instituted by the Senator. The press corps was kept discreetly away, behind a makeshift barricade at Honeyman Hall.


Eulogists were Senator Edward Kennedy, Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, Harry Reid, the Senate whip, who was on the altar, as was Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Senator Jack Reed, and former President Bill Clinton, who said of Senator Pell, "He was the right kind of aristocrat -- a champion by choice, not circumstance, of the common good, our common future and our common dreams," Clinton said.


Senator Kennedy spoke of his family’s long friendship with Senator Pell. How his wonderful idiosyncrasies livened any adventure they had together, which often revolved around sailing trips.


Another story was told about the Senator seen sailing in the Newport Harbor standing upright dressed in a business suit.


The Senator’s wife Nuala Pell and his children followed his flag-draped coffin to a private burial service. Over two hundred fifty people attended a post-funeral wake at The Pell Center on the Salve Regina campus, sharing memories of their encounters with the gentleman Senator.


NewportSeen's favorite recollection of Senator Pell is when he was introduced to the last Premier of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, at the Carnegie Abbey Club’s World leadership Guest Series in 2006. Wheelchair bound, but still attending important political events, the Senator looked at Mr. Gorbachev, who said to him in English, “come, let us walk together.”













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