CLEVELAND – Hundreds of mourners filed into a church Friday to pay their respects to the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress.
Tubbs Jones, 58, died Aug. 20 from a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.
Cleveland resident Reba Ryan, among the first to go inside Bethany Baptist Church, said it was hard to believe Tubbs Jones was gone. She said the viewing brought her a sense of peace.
"Being a woman, a black woman, a strong woman, she set an example for others to follow," Ryan said.
Tubbs Jones represented the heavily Democratic 11th District, which includes Cleveland and its eastern suburbs. She chaired the Ethics Committee in the House and was the first black woman to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, his running mate Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were all expected to attend a memorial service Saturday.
Tubbs Jones was a national co-chair of Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. Tubbs Jones switched her backing to Obama in June.
Ushers on Friday held boxes of tissues for mourners approaching her casket, which was surrounded by red and white roses. Tubbs Jones was laid to rest wearing a red Delta Sigma Theta pin — she was heavily involved in the historic black women's sorority.
Many in line were dressed in suits, some wore jeans and sweat shirts. Mourner Geraldine Fletcher wore a red sequined hat and red pantsuit to honor Tubbs Jones, who often dressed in red.
"I loved to see her dress in red. It showed power — the boldness — it meant stop, look listen," said Fletcher, a former Cleveland resident who lives in Pomona, Calif. "I said I'm going to wear red today for Stephanie."
Additional viewing was scheduled 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Public Hall at the city's convention center. The memorial service was to begin at 11 a.m.