Elizabeth Edwards was remembered today as a woman who was feisty, witty, "knew who she was" and never stinted on showing her love for her children.
Hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers filled the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., to honor the life of the attorney, best-selling author and wife of former vice presidential candidate John Edwards in a somber but celebratory memorial service.
Remembered as a personable woman of strong conviction and immense intelligence, Edwards was beset by a number of tragedies throughout her life, including the death of her 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 car crash, the 2008 revelation of her husband's infidelity, and the six-year battle with breast cancer that claimed her life earlier this week -- all of which she handled with courage and grace.
The hour-long service at the church where Edwards turned for support after her son's death was attended by a number of political heavyweights, including Sen. John Kerry, who topped the Democratic presidential ticket in 2004 when John Edwards made his vice presidential run, and Vicki Kennedy, wife of late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue and Sen. Kay Hagan were also expected to attend.
Eulogies were delivered by Edwards' oldest daughter, Cate, and Edwards' longtime friends Hargrave McElroy and Glenn Bergenfield. John Edwards did not speak at the proceedings.
"She knew who she was," McElroy said to the gathered mourners. "She never held back. She was without pretence."
"Would it be shallow of me to say here that she was gorgeous?" asked Bergenfield, a longtime friend and classmate of Edwards' at the University of North Carolina. "Not law school good looking, but big world, head turning, walk-into-the-pole gorgeous."
Some happy news did come for the family recently when Cate Edwards announced that she is engaged to be wed to her longtime boyfriend Trevor Upham, according to People magazine. The couple met while studying at Princeton University and got engaged over Thanksgiving weekend.
"She was feisty and she was witty," Cate Edwards said of her mother today. "She always had the ability to make fun of herself and laugh at herself. She was smart as a whip and tried never to hold that over anyone, unless she was right and they were wrong."
Cate Edwards also went on to read from a letter filled with words of wisdom that she said her mother had been writing to her children for years
"I have loved you in the best ways that I know how," she read. "I'll admit my shortcomings more than you know. For when I was less than I could have been, should have been, I did not, you did not get all that you deserve from me.
"For all I have said about life, I want you to know that all I ever really needed was you. Wherever I am wherever you are, I have my arms wrapped around you."
After today's funeral, Edwards was to be buried at nearby Oakwood Cemetery, alongside her son Wade.
Edwards' funeral became a cause for protest by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, whose members have become infamous for picketing the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers.