SIBIU, Romania – The "King of the Gypsies" is being laid to rest in a ceremony fitting his status.
Florin Cioaba was a driven activist who championed education for impoverished Roma children after seeing his own 12-year-old daughter storm out of a church to avoid an arranged marriage. Thousands turned out for his funeral Friday and stonemasons have been carving his tomb in black marble for the last week.
Cioaba died Sunday of a heart attack at age 58. He will be succeeded as leader of Europe's largest Roma community by one of his sons.
The family has led Romania's Roma since the 19th century. Cioaba took over the mantle from his father Ion Cioaba, who was deported during the Holocaust to the Soviet Union.
Cioaba, a Pentecostal pastor, made international headlines in 2003 when his daughter refused to get married. Criticism from a European Union envoy led the leader to encourage Roma to marry later.