Tributes paid at funeral Mass of visiting US family killed in crash

A piper and officers from the Chicago police department are in attendance at the funeral. Picture by RTÉ

THE "hope and zest for life" of four members of a US family killed while in Ireland for a funeral were remembered yesterday as mourners from both sides of the Atlantic gathered to say their final farewells.

The four coffins of Co Tyrone-born Doug and Lily Alexander and their sons, Steve, a police officer, and Doug Jnr, were met at the funeral Mass in Co Wexford by a combined guard of honour of gardaí and Chicago Police Department members.

Mourners at the joint funeral service were told of how the family of four had lived their lives full of "goodness, kindness and selflessness".

Placed side by side in St Mary's Church, Cushinstown, a photograph of each family member was positioned on the top of their coffins.

They were killed in a road crash near Cushinstown on December 4 after travelling from their home in Chicago following the death of Mrs Alexander's sister Winnie Keevey.

Doug Alexander Snr (75) was born and raised in Sion Mills, Co Tyrone, while his wife Lily (75) was from Limerick. Several members of Mr Alexander's family still live in Co Tyrone and the family were regular visitors to Ireland.

Fr Seán Devereux told mourners the family had been left "asking why and wondering if this darkness will ever pass".

"A journey to grieve a sister, sister in law, and aunt ended abruptly, stunning those close to Doug, Lily, Steve and Doug Jnr," he said.

The parish priest described how "Doug and Lily lived the American dream".

"They went to the US to build a life for themselves and through hard work they did this," he said.

"But they also enjoyed life moments and your memories spoken about them over the past week tell of a couple who shared what they had with others.

"They were generous to the end.

"Doug Jnr had traits of both his parents. He enjoyed life and was hard working. He brought joy to others through music and had a generous spirit.

"Steve served his community as a police officer and helped to make dreams come through with his workforce through service provided to the Special Olympics.

"He gave hope to so many young athletes as he encouraged them to achieved their dream."

Bishop Denis Brennan said the tragedy had "touched and saddened the whole country".

"Four people who loved you deeply have been taken from you in an instant," he said.

The bodies of Doug and Lily Alexander were to be cremated privately and their ashes returned to America, while the remains of their sons are to be repatriated for another funeral service in the US.

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