HUDSON — In the town he called home, in the church he attended as a child and where he later brought his family, more than 500 people gathered today to pay their respects to former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci, who was struck down by Lou Gehrig’s disease Saturday at the age of 65.
He was remembered as “family man of faith who tried to make the world a better place’’ in a homily by Ronald Calhoun, the pastor at St. Michael Parish.
In lighthearted, poignant rembrances, Cellucci was recalled as a devoted father and grandfather who handled a terrible illness with grace and strength.
“For most of you that knew my father well, you knew he was a man of great dignity and charm,’’ Cellucci’s daughter Kate said in her eulogy.
Many of the same dignitaries who gathered for for speeches and memories at the State House Thursday were on hand for the funeral today. Cellucci, a Republican, rose from small-town politics here to become lieutenant governor, acting governor, governor, and ambassador to Canada.
Former governor Bill Weld, a Republican who won the State House in 1990 with Cellucci as his running mate, stood at the steps of the church to greet mourners beforethe service began at 11 a.m.
On his way into the church, current Governor Deval Patrick passed by a contingent of Royal Mounted Canadian Police, who stood guard outside in their bright red uniforms.
Cellucci maintained the dignity and focus that characterized his time in politics even as his disease slowly robbed him of the ability to perform basic tasks, his daughter Anne said.
“When you are diagnosed with ALS, they tell you to get your priorities in order and start living life with this refocused direction on what really matters,’’ Anne Cellucci said. “Well, my Dad had ALS for 9 months before he told us and we had absolutely no idea. Nothing had changed in the way my Dad was living his life, because nothing had to – he already had his priorities in order.’’