Edward Bennett Williams Mourned by 1,000 From Sports, Legal Worlds
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Edward Bennett Williams, a giant in the legal and sports professions, was mourned by legends from both worlds Tuesday at a funeral mass at St. Matthews’ Cathedral.
Former presidential contenders, cabinet officers, members of Congress, media executives and sports hall of famers ranging from baseball’s Joe Dimaggio to football’s Sonny Jurgenson were among more than 1,000 people who paid their last respects to the superlawyer who died Saturday after a long battle with cancer.
Leroy Washington, who was Williams’ driver when he was president of the Washington Redskins, typified the sentiment echoed by all when he said, ″The Big Man is gone, but he fought a good fight.″
The taciturn DiMaggio, a close friend and board member of the Baltimore Orioles, owned by Williams, commented simply: ″I’m happy to be here, to say my farewell.″
After the mass, Williams was buried in St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, near his home in Potomac, Md., a Washington suburb.
The Rev. W. Louis Quinn, pastor of St. Matthews, said that Williams had been confined to his home 10 days ago from the 11-year battle against the cancer first detected in his colon.
Quinn said Williams still would attend mass either in the morning or the evening. ″Just a little over a week ago, he looked at me with his eyes and he said, ’I don’t think I can beat it this time,‴ said Quinn. ″He was ready for the final battle ... to meet his God.″
Among those who attended were former senators and Democratic presidential candidates George McGovern of South Dakato and Eugene McCarthy, Iran-contra lawyer Arthur Liman, former vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver and his wife Eunice Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan, former Virginia Gov. Charles Robb, Maryland Treasurer Louis Goldstein and various current and former stars of the Orioles and Redskins.
The Orioles brought two buses for their staff, including manager Frank Robinson who said Williams ″was not only an outstanding individual but a friend.″ Former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer came along.
Williams had been been president of the Washington Redskins for 20 years before becoming the owner of the Orioles. Former Redskins coach Jack Pardee, now with the University of Houston, former quarterback Jurgensen, running backs John Riggins, Calvin Hill and Larry Brown, linebacker Sam Huff, defensive back Brig Owens and others represented the football team.
Pallbearers included Joseph Califano, a cabinet member for former President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, columinist Art Buchwald, movie association executive Jack Valenti and law partner Brendan Sullivan, who is handling the Iran-contra court case of former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North. North also attended the services.
National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle, accompanied by Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, said, ″It is a great loss. He put up a hell of a fight.″
Williams was a celebrated trial lawyer and influential Washington insider whose clients ranged from the Teamsters’ leader James R. Hoffa to former Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He was 68 years old.
He was well-known to some of the most powerful figures in American public life. Vice President George Bush, who will become the Republican presidential candidate Thursday evening, attended his wake at a Washington funeral home Monday evening.
Williams stood as a pillar of the Washington establishment, and both Republican and Democratic presidents sought his friendship and counsel.