WASHINGTON DC (WXYZ) — Goodness, decency and friendship: those were the things John Dingell came to value most. During his funeral today at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., his friends praised him for leaving an unmistakable imprint on America.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell fought back tears as she met her husband’s flag- draped casket at the entrance to the church Thursday morning. The couple got married in the historic church 38 years ago this week.
Hundreds of mourners filled the sanctuary to pay tribute to legendary former Congressman, known as the Dean of the House. Dingell represented southeast Michigan in the House of Representatives for more than 59 years. He helped pass everything from the Civil Rights Act, to Medicare, to the Affordable Care Act.
“The thing I loved most about him was he was a world class ‘do-er.’ He understood the trust he was given as a member of Congress representing his people was first and foremost a job,” said former President Bill Clinton during a eulogy. “He was an old fashioned man, who did things in an old fashioned way that we should adapt for new times.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton sat on either side of Debbie Dingell during the service, at times holding her close, and supporting her during this final farewell.
“Their love affair was an example of devotion and support. John told every one of us I’m sure, that Deborah – the Lovely Deborah (her first name is lovely) -- the lovely Deborah was his strength his steady hand and his most important advisor and closest friend. And oh, how justifiably proud he was that she was continuing the legendary Dingell service in the Congress of the United States,” said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland).
Outside the church, family members and friends fought back tears as the Honor Guard saluted John Dingell’s flag-draped casket.
“I saw a lot of my dads friends from every part of his life, not just politics – there were old hunting buddies there, there were a lot of family members-- some I hadn’t seen in a quite a while. Just a remarkable number of people that loved my dad and they’re still showing it,” said Dingell’s son, Judge Christopher Dingell.
“He was bigger than life. He was one of those people you figured would always be around. So this makes today kind of a tougher day,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint).
More than 120 members of Congress attended the funeral Thursday.
John Dingell will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery Friday.