- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2011

TROY, MICH. (AP) - Friends and family of the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian stood behind his American flag-draped coffin on Friday and remembered him as a modest and courageous champion of physician-assisted suicide.

More than 150 people attended the chapel service at White Chapel Memorial Cemetery in suburban Detroit before Kevorkian was laid to rest. He died last week at age 83 of a pulmonary blood clot.

Kevorkian’s stunning claim to have assisted in more than 130 deaths of ill people in the 1990s brought him worldwide notoriety, but those who spoke Friday also described a softer, less public side of the pathologist.

A niece, Ava Janus, said Kevorkian had deep respect for anyone who was competent at their craft, even a “good chimney sweep.” She said he loved to talk about the origin of words, favored classical and Big Band-era music and was loyal to the Detroit Tigers no matter the baseball team’s fortunes.


A friend, Ruth Holmes, recalled Kevorkian arriving at her home with just a toothbrush and fresh underwear to escape media attention in 1998 after he assisted in the death of Thomas Youk, a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He stayed with her family for six months. It was video of Youk’s death aired by CBS’s “60 Minutes” that eventually led to Kevorkian being convicted of second-degree murder.

Holmes said Kevorkian had a motto: “The more you are the less you need.”

“Few men are willing to brave … the wrath of society,” she said. “That was our dear friend, Jack Kevorkian.”

The casket bore the American flag to signify his service in the Korean War. To the left was a large portrait of a smiling Kevorkian with his face resting in his right hand. Flowers were dedicated to “dearest brother” and “dearest uncle.”

His friend and attorney, Mayer Morganroth, said celebrities and the less fortunate were fascinated by Kevorkian. He recalled actress Susan Sarandon not allowing him to leave her home before actress Demi Moore and actor Ashton Kutcher could drop by.

Morganroth read an email from actor Al Pacino asking where he could send flowers. He portrayed Kevorkian in the 2010 HBO movie, “You Don’t Know Jack.”

Morganroth noted that inmates lined up to cheer Kevorkian when he was released from prison in 2007 after eight years. He said people from all over the world sent thousands of letters to Kevorkian over the years, including some with checks that were always returned.

“He couldn’t care less for any kind of wealth,” Morganroth said of a man who bought his clothes and furniture from The Salvation Army.