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Nancy Montgomery hugs friends and family after the funeral Friday for her husband, James Lovell, at Our Lady of Loretto Church in Cold Spring, N.Y. / Matthew Brown, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News

COLD SPRING, N.Y. -- At least 700 people thronged Our Lady of Loretto Church on Friday to mourn James Lovell, who was killed in a train derailment last weekend in the Bronx.

His casket was carried into the church to the plaintive sound of uilleann pipes, played by a former Cold Spring mayor. About an hour and a half later, as priests sprinkled the casket with holy water, the entire congregation and a choir on loan from a nearby church belted out the Beatles' "Let It Be."

Between those musical bookends, Lovell was remembered as a man who cared deeply for his family and his community, was endlessly curious and had limitless generosity.

"He tried to be a unifier, not a divider," the Rev. Brian McSweeney said during a homily in which he likened Lovell to the good Samaritan. "He tried to show the best in everybody."

Afterward, as she left the church, family friend Joan Varricchio of Cold Spring said: "My husband says it best: Jimmy would cross the room to find you just to see how you were doing. He was always interested in you."

Lovell, 58, left behind his wife, Nancy Montgomery, their three sons, a daughter, Brooke, from a previous marriage and a long list of admirers. Since his death, more than 980 people have contributed to an online fund for the family, raising more than $100,000 in less than a week.

NBC dedicated Wednesday's broadcast of the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to Lovell, a freelance writer and lighting and sound consultant who had a long affiliation with the network.

Lovell was on his way to help ready the tree early Sunday morning when the train he was riding barreled into a sharp curve near Spuyten Duyvil and tumbled off the tracks.

He was one of four people who died.

All week, friends and relatives recalled how Lovell, who deliberately avoided the restrictions that come with a regular 9-to-5 job, loved music, theater, the outdoors, his section of the Hudson Valley and sports at Haldane High School, from which he graduated in 1973 and where his sons are students.

After the service, mourners spilled out of the church onto Fair Street, in the heart of Cold Spring.

Richard Shea, supervisor of Philipstown and a longtime friend of Lovell and Montgomery, said the way the community had rallied behind Lovell's family was both "beyond anything you could imagine (and) not surprising."

Asked what made his friend so special to so many people, Shea said: "If you had six months, I could tell you all about him. ... He was present. He wasn't just there, he was really there."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Hundreds gather to mourn train wreck victim

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