Elmore Leonard Recalled With Tears And Laughter At Funeral

August 24, 2013, 2:12 PM

Friends, family members and other admirers celebrated the life of Elmore Leonard at the acclaimed author's funeral Saturday.

He died Monday at age 87 at home in Bloomfield Township, three weeks after a stroke.

"The twinkle in his eye showed he also enjoyed having fun," a Birmingham priest said in his homily Saturday.

The legendary novelist's funeral Mass "featured tears, but also laughter," Jim Schaefer writes in the Free Press.

About 325 people listened in Holy Name Catholic Church in Birmingham as the Rev. Joe Grimaldi eulogized the renowned writer known to many as simply "Dutch."

"Elmore truly was gifted with creativity, skill and talent," Father Grimaldi told the audience during his homily. "The twinkle in his eye showed he also enjoyed having fun." . . .

Leonard's death earlier in the week prompted a flurry of national attention about Leonard the writer, but today's ceremony was more about Leonard the man.

A black cap that Leonard often wore was atop the casket as grandsons carried it into the church, Lauren Abdel-Razzaq describes in The Detroit News.

She quotes from remarks at the church by Bill Leonard, the writer's youngest son:

“Everybody knew he was a great writer. Only a few of us know he was a great father, funny, patient and incredibly generous.”

Abdel-Razzaq describes what happened when longtime friend Mike Lupica, a New York sportswriter and novelist, rose to deliver a Bible reading::

Before he did, he said, “I’m going to leave out the parts a dear friend of mine would have urged me to skip,” in reference to Leonard’s advice that writers skip the boring parts.

Mourners also included Timothy Olyphant, an actor in the TV series "Justified," based on Leonard’s works.

Navy officers in white dress uniforms conducted a "farewell to arms" flag presentation ceremony and played "Taps" on a bugle for Leonard, a Navy veteran of World War II. 

Separately, the Freep published a tribute by fellow Metro Detroit writer Loren D. Estleman, who describes Leonard as "a romantic."

It’s just about the only thing we had in common, despite the media’s attempts to link us together. . . .We both wrote crime stories. We both wrote about Detroit. But our work bore as much resemblance as the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Which may be why we were friends. Opposites attract. . . .

He wasn’t my role model. I met him too late. He wasn’t my mentor, because I never asked him for advice and he never offered it. But reading him helped me tune my dialog.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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