A Grand Farewell for Katharine Graham

W A S H I N G T O N, July 23, 2001 -- Thousands paid tribute today to Katharine Graham, remembering her as a gallant lady who remained steadfast as she guided The Washington Post through turbulence and extraordinary growth.

Graham's power and influence were on display in the Washington National Cathedral, where former President Clinton and Vice President Dick Cheney shared a pew with their wives. Senators left the Capitol together in a blue-and-white striped bus to attend the funeral.

Despite her power in Washington circles, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled, she remained "matter of factly loyal to her friends and deeply devoted to her family."

Kissinger wove his personal tales of friendship with tributes to her contributions to journalism and her fierce defense of the First Amendment. Their friendship grew despite the fact that the Post under her stewardship often was a relentless critic of the administrations in which he served, he said.

"This paradox was overwhelmed by the admiration and affection I felt for Kay as a person," Kissinger said, recalling how Graham once took him out to the movies because he looked weary from dealing with the Vietnam War.

‘The Enduring Legacy of a Gallant Lady’

Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., another close friend, also eulogized her. "Katharine Graham was a very gallant lady. She will leave an enduring mark on the nation's capital and the irreverent press."

Bill Graham, one of the publisher's son, opened the funeral by reading from the Book of Revelation, and the congregation followed by reading aloud from Psalm 23.

Led by former Sen. John Danforth, an Episcopal priest, and other priests, Graham's casket was carried in by former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, lawyer Vernon Jordan and broadcast executive Barry Diller, among others.

Ben Bradlee, Graham's former executive editor, also was paid tribute. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed "Sarabande" from Bach's "6th Cello Suite."

Graham, a trailblazer among women in business and journalism, also was honored by those who followed her, television news anchors Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, who served as ushers. Graham died Tuesday at 84.

As prominent as she was on the national stage, Graham remained closely linked with the issues and personalities in the District of Columbia. Two former Washington mayors, Harold Washington and Marion Barry, as well as the city's top police officials, attended.

"She's one of the leading people in the 20th century," Mayor Anthony Williams told CNN on the steps of the church, "and we're very, very proud to have called her our own."

Watergate and the Pentagon Papers

Bradlee, whose hiring at the Post was one of Graham's most admired moves, wrote in his memoir that when she gave the go-ahead in 1971 to publish the Pentagon Papers despite government objections, "it crystallized for editors and reporters everywhere how independent and determined and confident of its purpose the new Washington Post had become."

Graham was "the premier American publisher. She got tested more than most of them, and she stood up with such bravery," Bradlee said Sunday.

Kissinger developed a lasting friendship with Graham that flourished even through the Watergate investigation, when Kissinger was President Nixon's ally and the Post was leading the way in investigating the scandal.

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, published in 1997, Graham recalled that Kissinger "didn't seem to suffer within the administration even though he went on coming to my house — but not to the Post — during Watergate."

Schlesinger, too, was a longtime friend of Graham's.

Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan Attend

The list of notables attending the funeral read like the high-powered guest lists of those who frequented Graham's dinner parties. Among those attending were Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who was an usher, theater producer Mike Nichols and investor Warren Buffett.

Among the media representatives were Associated Press chief executive Louis D. Boccardi and Donald Newhouse, chairman of the AP board.

Graham, who served as chairman of The Washington Post Co. for two decades, died Tuesday, three days after suffering a head injury in a fall outside a condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho. A private burial was planned at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington.