Words to Remember Roger Ebert by, from His Funeral

Esther Zuckerman
The Atlantic Wire

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Emanuel spoke about Ebert's role as a Chicagoan. "Whether or not we knew Roger, we knew Roger loved Chicago and Chicago loved Roger. He was the most American of critics in the most American of cities," Emanuel said, explaining that before he went to a movie he needed to discover two things: "what time did it start and what did Roger think about it." 

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Governor Pat Quinn: Quinn remembered Ebert's populism, describing him as a "union man." He ended with, "We love you Roger. We always will. Thumbs up." 

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Jonathan Jackson: In addition to reading remarks by his father, Jesse Jackson Sr.—who said that Ebert "understood that a community without culture is an untenable idea that will surely destroy us all"—Jackson discussed Ebert's role in championing films by black filmmakers, like Do the Right Thing: "I look at Roger as a soldier with a pen," he said. Jackson finished his remarks by relaying the thoughts of Do the Right Thing's director, Spike Lee, who he called on the way to the service. Lee said: "Roger fought the good fight. Roger fought the power."

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John Barron: The former Sun-Times editor and publisher described Ebert as a "true newspaper man," who also understood where the journalism industry was heading. Ebert, he said, was an early adopter of computers and email and was "was 24/7 before anyone had ever thought about that term." 

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Sonia Evans: Ebert's stepdaughter described being in the hospital with Ebert as he would write "special little notes" about memories. Holding back tears she talked about how much he loved her kids and how much he meant to her family: "I'm the happiest when I think about he and my mother found each other." She concluded: "Roger I want to thank you for nothing more than for being you," she said. "You gave yourself. cmpletely genuinely and we are all forever grateful."

Chaz Ebert: Ebert's wife was the last to speak, and explained that she wasn't sure she could, but when she was listening to her daughter she knew she had to "because I know that Roger would want me to thank you." Chaz also described her late husband's passion for causes: "He really was a soldier for social justice and it didn’t matter to him your race, creed, color, level of ability, sexual orientation he had a heart big enough to accept and love all." When she fixed her hat, she said: "he loved this hat, that's why I wore it today." 

Inset photo by the Associated Press