MONROEVILLE, Ala. — The funeral for “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee, who died Friday at age 89, was as private as her life. A few dozen family members gathered Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Alabama to hear a eulogy by her longtime friend and history professor, Wayne Flint.
The eulogy was the speech Flynt wrote in 2006 entitled “Atticus inside ourselves,” as a tribute when Lee won the Birmingham Pledge Foundation Award for racial justice.
Flynt said the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist liked the speech so much that she wanted him to give it as her eulogy.
“I want you to say exactly that,” Flynt quoted Lee as saying at the time. “Not one thing more, and not one thing less.”
“If I deviated one degree, I would hear this great booming voice from heaven, and it wouldn’t be God,” Flynt said in an earlier interview.
About three dozen family members and close friends attended the funeral.
Her casket was taken by silver hearse to the adjacent cemetery where her father, A.C. Lee and sister, Alice Lee, are buried.
Two uniformed Monroeville police officers stood outside the church during the private service.
Ann Mote, owner of the Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe in the southern Alabama town thinks the town will always be linked to Lee.
Lee drew inspiration from her hometown for the fictionalized Maycomb, which is the setting in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Her death comes almost exactly a year after her publisher, HarperCollins, stunned the world by announcing that a second novel by Lee would be released, ending what many believed was a permanent and much-desired literary silence.
Ralph Eubanks, a former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and currently a visiting professor of Southern studies at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, says the brilliance of “Mockingbird” was in how it could make anyone from the North or South identify with the issues and with the characters.