December 10, 2014

Jean Beliveau: The Final Farewell

From Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette:

Béliveau’s funeral, held as heavy snow blanketed the city, drew a large crowd of dignitaries, hockey stars past and present, extended family and friends. Outside the cathedral, hundreds more braved the storm and watched the Roman Catholic mass unfold on large screens set up for the occasion.

Béliveau’s wife and partner of 61 years, Élise Couture, entered the church shortly after 2 p.m., walking silently behind her late husband’s coffin – which had been draped in a Montreal Canadiens flag – before being seated in the front row with her daughter and granddaughters. Cournoyer described her as “an exceptional woman” who had remained “strong and beautiful.”

In his own eulogy, delivered before the mass began, hockey star Ken Dryden remembered ‘Le Gros Bill’ as “our captain, our leader. In his last days as a player he was what he would remain the rest of his life: a great presence.”

Here is the full Montreal Gazette article.

Dryden was joined by former Canadiens greats Dickie Moore, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard and team owner Geoff Molson in eulogizing Beliveau today.

Cournoyer, Savard, Phil Goyette, Bobby Rousseau, Jean Guy Talbot and Guy Lafleur were the pall-bearers.

Other notables in attendance include Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, former prime minister Jean Chretien, Quebec premier Philippe Couillard, mayor Denis Coderre, and hockey notables Mario Lemieux, Johnny Bower, Luc Robitaille, Guy Carbonneau. The entire current roster of the Montreal Canadiens team was, of course, also in attendance.

100s of devoted fans braved a severe snowstorm to stand outside the church and watch the proceedings on erected jumbo screens.

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