Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to honor slain abortion provider George Tiller, eulogized by a longtime friend as a passionate and generous man who overcame difficult challenges.
Tiller’s funeral at College Hill United Methodist Church also drew small groups of protesters. Police and federal marshals provided heavy security.
Tiller, one of the country’s few providers of late-term abortions, was killed by a gunshot last Sunday in the foyer of his own church, Reformation Lutheran, while he was serving as an usher and his wife was singing in the choir. His family had the funeral at the Methodist church to accommodate the large number of mourners.
His son, Maury, said the manner of his father’s death resulted in an unimaginable outpouring of love and support for the family.
But he said: “I struggle with the manner he was welcomed into heaven.”
Others recalled personal quirks that made him human.
Tiller’s daughter, Rebecca, recalled how her father loved Star Trek and gave her a framed poster of Trekkie sayings for her apartment, which he promised her would bring her success if she read them each day before going out. Among his favorites were: “Live long and prosper,” and “When you go out to the universe remember, boldly go where no man has gone before.”
He was also remembered for his generosity and humor.
“Dear God, get heaven ready, because Mr Enthusiasm is coming,” said Larry Borcherding of Overland Park, who first met Tiller a half-century ago when both were students at the University of Kansas. “Heaven will never be the same. It will be a better, better place with George in it.”
About 700 people filled the church sanctuary and some 200 watched a closed-circuit TV broadcast in another room.
Most anti-abortion groups avoided the funeral, having denounced Tiller’s shooting. But 17 demonstrators showed up from Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing soldiers’ funerals to present its message that their deaths are God’s punishment for homosexuality.
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