Family and others carry the casket holding Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to a hearse after a service at St. Patrick's Church in Bedford, N.Y., Saturday, May 19, 2012. Kennedy was found dead of an apparent suicide this week at her home in Bedford. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., stands just left of center in background, helping carry the casket. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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Mary Kennedy Was "Best Friend Anyone Could Imagine"
Kerry Kennedy, brother of Robert and best friend of Mary Richardson Kennedy, spoke to reporters and shared personal memories before Mary's funeral Saturday.
Family and friends gathered Saturday at a modest stone church in a hamlet in Westchester for the funeral of Mary Richardson Kennedy, the latest member of that charmed and cursed family to fall victim to tragedy and inner demons.
The service, held on a beautiful spring morning, was private, but the list of celebrities attending was a testament to both Kennedy star power, and Mary's knack for friendship.
The mourners included actors Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and Edward James Olmos, tennis great John McEnroe and musician Paul Shaffer. Glenn Close sang and "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David spoke during the ceremony, according to a program left at the church.
Mary's estranged husband, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., delivered the eulogy.
Speaking to reporters outside the church before the service, Mary's sister-in-law and nearly lifelong friend, Kerry Kennedy, recalled her as "brilliant" and "beautiful."
"She cared so very, very deeply about everybody around her," she said.
But she added that Kennedy had fought a lifelong struggle against depression.
The 52-year-old architectural designer and environmentalist was found dead of an apparent suicide Wednesday at the family's estate in Bedford. Her death followed a difficult two years, during which her husband filed for divorce and she was charged twice with driving while intoxicated.
Still, Kerry Kennedy said, those troubles didn't stop her from developing "really deep, rich, rich friendships," with friends in every corner of the globe.
"She was an angel who was brought to us, to live with us here on earth, and I think that God just brought her back up to heaven, and said, 'You don't have to fight for me anymore,'" Kerry Kennedy said, her voice breaking.
The casket was carried into St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church by a group that included three of Mary Kennedy's older children, one of her sisters and the hotelier André Balazs.
A bell tolled at the end of the service. Robert Kennedy touched the hearse lightly as it departed with her body.
Mary Richardson married into the Kennedy family in 1994, but had been close to the clan since meeting Kerry at boarding school as a teenager. The pair wound up being roommates for 15 years, including their time together at Brown University.
She had four children with Robert, the son of assassinated U.S. senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, but the couple separated years ago. He filed for divorce in 2010. The case was pending when she died.
Shortly after the split, her internal struggles became public when she was arrested twice on charges of driving while intoxicated.
The domestic turmoil extended into preparations for her funeral. One of Mary's brothers went to court to request custody of her body, which could potentially have spoiled a Kennedy plan to bury her near the family's seaside compound in Hyannisport, Mass.
That internment was initially scheduled to take place later Saturday, although it was unclear whether the arrangement had been altered as a result of the court action.
Robert Kennedy and a lawyer for the Richardson family spent part of the day in court Friday arguing the case, before Mary's body was released to her husband just hours before her planned wake. Details of the case were sealed by a judge.