A few friends and neighbors, but mostly strangers, filled the pews of St. Charles Church on Staten Island Tuesday to pay respects to David Maxwell, a Vietnam War veteran who drowned in his home during Sandy.
Maxwell's body was found in his Midland Beach home on Veteran's Day, nearly two weeks after the storm hit.
"When his door still was closed days and days later, I knew he wasn't OK," said neighbor Leslie Granowski.
Granowski told NBC 4 New York that Maxwell, a lifelong New Yorker who served in the Navy, used to garden and decorate his humble bungalow with his longtime friend James.
On Tuesday, a lone strand of Halloween lights adorned his home -- all that was left after Sandy washed away his photos and personal treasures.
"David was a very sweet man, very kind, very gentle, very quiet," Granowski said.
With no funds to pay for his funeral, Maxwell was destined for Potter's Field until the Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs, veterans groups and a funeral home came together to give him a proper burial.
"He was a veteran. He served this country with distinction," said Jim Mullarkey, state commander of the Catholic War Veterans. "We're happy to be here and present and doing what we can to make his life, his death something important."
After his funeral at St. Charles, Maxwell was buried at Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island.
He was honored by his military family and fellow New Yorkers, most who never knew him while he was alive, but made sure he had a proper goodbye after his death.
"The good and the bad -- we want to help each other," said Bernard Eldgrede, member of the Catholic War Veterans who, like Maxwell, served in the Navy.
"If anybody is in trouble we try to help them out. And I guess being here and showing him in numbers, there's strength in all of us."