Family, friends and over a hundred fans gathered at a downtown Chicago church to bid goodbye to Roger Ebert.
The film critic—whose decades of sparring with crosstown rival Gene Siskel on Siskel & Ebert at the Movies not only gave the world their signature phrase "Two Thumbs Up," but transformed the way people thought about the cinema—died Thursday at the age of 70 after years of battling cancer.
But given the universal love emanating from the speakers at today's funeral Mass at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, Ebert was remembered for a life well lived and the inimitable writings he left behind as Chicago's—and then America's—Critic.
"Whether or not we knew Roger, we knew he loved Chicago and Chicago loved Roger," the Chicago Tribune quoted Mayor Rahm Emanuel as saying from the podium. "Roger…was able to bring the spirit of American film alive. Roger's name became synonymous with Chicago."
Getting the last word, Ebert's wife, Chaz, received a standing ovation as she recalled what a kind and decent human being Roger was, aside from his legacy as one of the world's most influential film critics.
"He had a heart big enough to accept and love all," she said, telling those in attendance that her husband "would want me to thank you. He would have loved this. He would have loved the majesty of it."
Chaz also praised Ebert for being a "soldier for social justice," saying "it didn't matter to him your race, creed, color, level of ability, sexual orientation."
A tribute to the Pulitzer Prize-winning newsman is set to be held Thursday evening at the Chicago Theatre and a slew of actors, writers and directors are expected to turn up.