Michael Kennedy laid to rest
January 3, 1998
Web posted at: 7:45 p.m. EST (0045 GMT)
BROOKLINE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Carried to his final resting place by members of his close-knit family, Michael Kennedy was buried Saturday afternoon in a snowy cemetery in a Boston suburb, near the grandparents who built the Kennedy political dynasty.
Kennedy, 39, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, died New Year's Eve in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado.
Earlier, during a funeral Mass at a Catholic church on Cape Cod, Kennedy was eulogized as a talented idealist committed to finishing the work of his slain father, despite a shadow of scandal that covered the last year of his life.
"A whole nation knows his name, but few know the best of what he did," said his brother, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy.
"I ask now that we look at Michael truly -- not in the glare of the moment, but in the wholeness of his life," he said. "It was a life cut short, a life not without pain and imperfection, but full of hope and high achievement."
A Harvard graduate, Kennedy was head of Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit company that provided home heating fuel to the poor. He also ran the 1994 re-election campaign of his uncle, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Considered one of the rising stars in his generation of the family, Michael's reputation was severely tarnished earlier this year when the Boston Globe published allegations that he had a long-term affair with his children's 14-year-old baby sitter.
Since the scandal, Michael Kennedy had kept a low profile. He died after crashing into a tree on an Aspen ski slope, where he and his party were playing football while coming down an icy mountain.
Surviving siblings attend services
All nine of Kennedy's surviving siblings were part of the crowd of nearly 500 mourners who packed into Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville for his funeral. His estranged wife, Victoria Gifford Kennedy, walked into the church with his mother, Ethel.
Michael's mother, Ethel, arrives at the church with Victoria Gifford Kennedy
Arriving mourners were given a prayer card adorned with a black-and-white photo of Kennedy and words from an Irish ballad: "Your troubles are over, you're at rest with God on high, but we're slaves and orphans, Michael! Why did you die?"
His 14-year-old son, Michael Jr., and other family members and friends served as pallbearers, bringing the mahogany coffin into the church, where reporters and photographers were not permitted.
His two young daughters, Rory and Kyle, were escorted by their maternal grandfather, sportscaster Frank Gifford, and his wife, television personality Kathie Lee Gifford.
Recalling his father's 1968 assassination, Joseph Kennedy told Michael's children that, when he faces tough times, he still talks to his father through prayer.
"To little Michael, to Kyle and Rory, you can still talk to your father," Kennedy said.
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy arrives, as well as John F. Kennedy Jr. and Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy
Andy Williams sings 'Ave Maria'
The Mass began shortly after 10 a.m. with the processional song "Ode To Joy." Rows of poinsettias, white roses and white lilies lined the front of the altar.
Family friend Andy Williams sang "Ave Maria." Kennedy's sisters, Rory and Kathleen, and brother, Maxwell, read Scripture.
The Rev. Michael Kennedy, a namesake and parish priest from Dungarvan County, Waterford, Ireland, who is a long-time family friend, helped celebrate the Mass.
Several books, a photo of Michael and a crucifix adorned the coffin. Letters from President Clinton, South African President Nelson Mandela and Coretta Scott King were read aloud.
John F. Kennedy Jr., who earlier this year had called Michael and Joseph "poster boys for bad behavior" in his political magazine George, attended the funeral with his wife, Carolyn. He embraced Joseph outside of the church and helped spread a traditional funeral drape over the coffin during the service.
Others who attended the service included actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is married to Maria Shriver, Kennedy's cousin; former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo; shoe designer Kenneth Cole; and U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, a long-time friend of the Kennedy family, was President Clinton's official representative at the service. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Commerce Secretary William Daley also attended. Cuomo is married to Michael Kennedy's sister, Kerry.
Buried near brother, grandparents
Kennedy was the sixth of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children. He was preceded in death by a brother, David, who died of a drug overdose in Florida in 1984.
He was buried Saturday next to David in Holyhood Cemetery. Interred in the same plot are Joseph and Rose Kennedy, the founding patriarch and matriarch of the Irish Catholic political dynasty that has included a U.S. president, two U.S. senators, two U.S. representatives and a lieutenant governor.
"Whether people agree or disagree with their politics, it's a family that's been important to our country and been intertwined with all of our lives," said Phil Papineau, part of a crowd outside of the church watching the family and guests arrive for the funeral. "I just wanted to see the Kennedys and in a small measure pay my respect."
Correspondents Brian Jenkins and Gary Tuchman and Reuters Limited contributed to this report.