Mary Richardson Kennedy funeral: Divided families bid RFK Jr.’s wife fairwell three days after her suicide
Intimate gathering came less than 24 hours after Mary’s family went to court against RFK Jr. in a battle over her final resting place
Two divided families united in mourning Saturday for an emotional farewell to Mary Richardson Kennedy just three days after her shocking suicide.
Dozens of family members and celebrity friends — including Caroline Kennedy, John McEnroe, Edward James Olmos, Glen Close and Chevy Chase — filled St. Patrick’s Church in Mount Kisco for the funeral.
A police escort brought a gray hearse carrying her body to the house of worship, with her estranged husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and their four children trailing in a black Town Car.
Matriarch Ethel Kennedy, a veteran of such grim family gatherings, rode behind them inside a black SUV. A dozen pallbearers brought the wooden casket inside.
It was the same church where the couple’s children — Conor, Kyra, William and Aiden, ranging in age from 11 to 17 — received their First Communion.
The three oldest kids, along with one of Mary’s sisters, helped steer the casket on its final journey.
The church was absolutely still as the children accompanied their mother body inside the intimate stone church, where huge vases of white roses and delphiniums flanked the altar.
“She was an angel,” said high school friend Virginia Warner. “It was a fitting tribute.”
Comedian Larry David, scheduled to speak at the service, was too distraught to address the mourners. Daughter Kyra read a psalm in one of the funeral’s most touching moments.
At another point, many in the crowd wept when the song “Amazing Grace” reached the lines, “Through many dangers, toils and snares/We have already come.”
The mourners filled the 300 seats in the pews and spread along the side aisles and the lobby.
Kerry Kennedy, the dead woman’s sister-in-law and friend since boarding school, provided a touch of levity with tales from Mary’s political past.
In one, while working for Andy Warhol, she convinced the pop artist to donate a painting as a fund-raiser for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
“But she also asked him for his Rolodex,” Kerry said. “And so she called Rauschenberg and Schnabel and others and said, ‘Hey, Andy is doing this — do you want to get in on this?’”
At 12:45 p.m., the hearse departed as RFK Jr. and other family members followed inside a bus.
The gathering at the church came less than 24 hours after Mary’s family went to court against RFK Jr. in a battle over her final resting place.
Kennedy won the fight to have his wife buried at his family’s renowned Hyannisport home. The couple was in the middle of an extended divorce when she hanged herself in a barn.
The court battle nearly kept her body from reaching the Kennedy family’s Bedford, N.Y., compound for her Friday night wake.
Before the funeral, Kerry Kennedy delivered a teary remembrance of the 52-year-old woman described as “my very best friend.”
“She was brilliant and she was beautiful and she cared so very, very deeply about everybody around her,” said Kerry Kennedy, wearing a black dress and black shoes.
“She had friends in every corner of the globe. Really deep, rich friendships.”
After years of battling her demons — including depression and alcoholism — the mother of four finally succumbed to her diseases, Kerry Kennedy said.
“I just think that she was really an angel who was brought to us, to live with us here on earth,” Kennedy said. “And I think God just brought her back up to heaven and said, ‘You don’t have to fight for me anymore.’”
Friends said Mary was struggling with her divorce and with sharing custody of the kids. They also planned to hold their own memorial for the late mother at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan.