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Thousands Pay Respects at Reputed Drug Kingpin’s Burial Service

November 22, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ Thousands of people turned out to pay their respects to reputed drug kinpin Willie ″Flukey″ Stokes on Friday at a service bearing little resemblance to the flashy funeral he arranged for his slain son two years ago.

Stokes, 49, who was shot to death Tuesday in what police described as an ambush, was laid out in a mahogany casket with a glass lid, dressed in a light blue silk suit and blue snakeskin shoes.

The scene was sedate compared to the service he arranged for his son, who was buried in a $10,000 Cadillac-shaped coffin.

Sporting tinted glasses in his casket, the elder Stokes clutched a portable telephone to his chest.

″He’s into business, so the calls will come in to him so he can keep track of his business,″ explained Michael Beal, 19, who identified himself as an acquaintance of Stokes.

″Everybody loved him. I loved him,″ Beal said.

By the time a procession by the casket was scheduled to begin, about 3,000 people had already filed past, and the service was to last another five hours, said Spenser Leak, an owner of A.R. Leak Funeral Home, where the wake was held.

Most of those who waited in the block-long line in front of the funeral home were curious spectators. They were ushered quickly past the coffin, surrounded by floral arrangements decorated with dice and poker cards.

Stokes, who often wore gold chains and a dangling diamond earring, listed his occupation as ″profesional gambler,″ his police record shows. He had weapon and drug charges going back to 1962 and served time for a 1979 narcotics conviction.

″As far as I can see he was really nice, passing money around, and I was very sorry I didn’t come into contact with him because I could have used the money,″ said Ora Head, 42, who said she had wanted to see how Stokes was dressed.

The same funeral home arranged an elaborate memorial service for Willie ″The Wimp″ Stokes Jr., who also was shot to death.

Mourning relatives at that service placed $1,000 bills between the deceased’s fingers as his body reclined behind the steering wheel of a casket that resembled a Cadillac Seville.

Police said they are continuing to investigate the shootings of Stokes and his driver, Ronald Johnson, 48, who were gunned down as they sat in a car.

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