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The Mark Inside

Lou Blonger's Funeral.

 

Rule

Denver Post, April 23, 1924

HUNDREDS ATTEND FUNERAL OF BLONGER AND MOURN PASSING OF DENVER PIONEER
Grand Army Veterans Follow Flag-Draped Coffin of Picturesque Westerner Down Dim Aisles of Cathedral to Altar.
By FRANCES WAYNE.
Like unto a mother, the church spread the mantle of its love and charity about him, and at solemn requiem mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wednesday morning, on the wings of prayer commended the soul of Lou Blonger, who passed away at the penitentiary Sunday, to the "unfailing mercy and everlasting justice of almighty God."
The judgment mortal man passed on Blonger had been paid. Death sealed the score between the aged man and the world in which he had lived. In his last hour he had received the sacraments of the Catholic church, and, like other sinners who repent, he was shielded and honored as his body was carried forward to the grave.
No more solemn funeral services, or services more fraught with deep, human feeling, have been recorded than those of Blonger. In his life as boy and man of the west, Blonger had made many friends — friends who believed in, trusted and cared for him.
FLAG DRAPES BLONGER COFFIN.
These, like himself, grown old, gathered first at the Horan mortuary at 8:30 o'clock for a service of prayer, and then followed the flag-draped casket to the cathedral.
There was an honor guard of men from the Grand Army of the Republic in faded blue army coats with medals on their breasts, preceding the cortege into the dim aisles of the church toward the altar, where Easter lilies and red roses gleamed under candle light.
There was the black-draped figure of his widow — a woman faithful into death and thru many tribulations.
There were men from all walks of life, like "Ed" Tappen, who, as doorman at the old Central theater had known Lou in the hey-dey of this roystering life; men who, as attorneys for Blonger and his co-defendants in Colorado's most sensational legal battle, had fought their best to keep him free; men who knew only the generous side of the dead man's nature; men who had been fed and housed and kept warm thru his charity. All were there to pay a last tribute of respect to Lou Blonger.
MANY WOMEN ATTEND SERVICES.
Women were there, too: some out of curiosity, others whose paths had crossed those of Blonger in days when the city was young and gay and knew few classes or social distinctions. A group of nuns joined their prayer to that of the officiating priest for the repose of the soul that had taken flight thru prison walls.
"Jack" Kelley, who had twirled a thousand whirring balls across the baseball diamond when Denver leagued with the big ones, cupped his ear in hand to miss no word of good spoken of his old friend, Lou.
And as these folk from many wheres responded to the symbols of the service, their eyes rested on a great wreath of a hundred Easter lilies, which had been sent to mark the devotion of "Jackie" French, the debonair "bunco" artist, who regarded Blonger as master and friend during the trial, and on the journey from Denver to Canon City.
Bearing the heavy casket down the aisle as pallbearers were Bert Davis, John Vivian, James Terry, Peter Bossie, Louis Straub, Tom Clarke, C.H. Castner and Eugene Kaiser, while Jim Goodhart, city chaplain, who delivered the prayer at the grave in Fairmount cemetery, followed after.
What manner of sermon would Father F.E. Walsh preach for one who had broken the state's laws and paid the penalty?
MERCY FORMS TEXT OF SERMON.
The question sprang to many lips and then the priest, the mass ended, the casket shrouded in incense, symbolic of prayers and sprinkled with holy water in token of the soul's cleansing thru sacrament, stood in the pulpit and declared:
"The dead belong to God."
And those who heard knew that Mercy and not Judgment would form the text of the sermon.
"The most powerful sermon must proceed from thoughts which come out of our minds as we gaze on the dead, cold lips of him that but yesterday was a man among men.
"For these dead, cold lips tell us with convincing logic that death is the universal tribute that all men must pay. Not one can escape. It is appointed unto man once to die. If death is the end of human existence, if all ends at the grave, then who can explain the riddle of life or reconcile its inequalities?
"The lips of the dead are silent concerning this riddle. But the church has a message. The church places around the dead lighted candles, symbolic of life eternal; she chants over the dead a plea for mercy, for life to come; she sprinkles the dead with holy water to symbolize the cleansing power of the sacraments; she wreaths the casket with incense, symbolic of prayer for the soul that has gone hence. All prayers and symbols are the church's declaration of immortality. All honor is bestowed on this body today because one day it shall rise again.
"Death is but the bridge between finite life and eternity. Jesus Christ came to suffer, and die and to redeem us from our sins and that thru Him, no matter what kind of life we have lived, we may come to him for forgiveness, and shall live on forever and ever beyond the grave.
JUDGE THE LIVING, BUT NOT THE DEAD.
"The dead belong to God! We may criticize the living and judge the actions of others on human impulse or out of passion. The dead belong to God, and let every man be silent in death's presence. Let us remember that we know not the innermost thoughts of the souls of our fellow beings. Many follow the injunction of the Lord. Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth! And so, with confidence in the mercy of Jesus Christ, we pray today that the soul of our departed brother, sanctified by the sacraments of Christ, shall find mercy as he stands before God, the Father, and that as His mercy is boundless, so also is His justice true and righteous altogether.
"We will pray for the repose of his soul, and from his lips, stilled in death tho they be, receive the sermon that we, too, shall die, that we must keep the commandments of God against the judgment of God in the last day."
The priest, making the sign of the cross, withdrew. Aloft the organ sent a note of clear, sunny sweetness into the still air of the cathedral — a pledge perhaps that God's mercy will find a way to shield one whose code, running counter to that of the law, entangled and broke him on the wheel of justice.
Lou Blonger, regaining in death some of the majesty which should be the heritage of every mortal, was given back to mother earth by his mother church and it may be that what good he did will live after him and not be interred with his bones, and that of evil he did will depart with him.
He had made friends, true, loyal friends who came at last to pray for mercy for his soul, and light upon his way.

 

Rule

 


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