Colorado Connection: Looking back on Denver funeral of RBG’s predecessor Justice Byron White


DENVER (KDVR) — As America continues to honor the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, FOX31 is taking viewers through history as America said goodbye to her predecessor on the high court. On April 19, 2002, a large crowd gathered in Denver to say goodbye to Colorado native Justice Byron White.

Justice White retired in 1993. His departure cleared the way for President Clinton to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg. White’s final resting place is at Saint John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver.

Cathedral archivist Linda Hargrave has been a member of the church for more than three decades and sang in the choir during White’s funeral.

“[It is] one of the fondest memories I have of Saint John’s,” Hargrave said. “It was a celebration of this great man’s life.”

Justices Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas and Bryer were in Denver that day to pay their respects.

“The cathedral was full,” Hargrave said. “There were probably a thousand people or so.”

While Justice Ginsburg did not attend the funeral in Denver, there’s no doubt she held the White family in high regard. Ginsburg wrote to Justice White’s two children in 2009 after their mother, Marion White, died. Hargrave shared the letter—dated January 26, 2009— with FOX31.

“Dear Barney and Nancy:

My mother had a favorite word, “Lady,” to describe women of intelligence, courage, and caring — people who wasted no time on unproductive emotions (anger, resentment, or jealousy), but bravely met whatever challenges life set for them.  Your mother fit that description perfectly.

Some years ago, our Curator’s Office prepared slides to accompany my talk on the lives of wives of Supreme Court Justices.  We started with the early 19th century Court, featuring Polly Marshall and Sarah Story.  The last photograph was of Marion White looking bright and beautiful in her Navy uniform.

May the two of you and your families carry on in life and good health, thriving in your various pursuits, just as your mother would have willed.

With sympathy,

Ruth and Marty

Ruth Bader Ginsburg”

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