Family says goodbye to Steinbrenner in private
July 17, 2010 by KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN / email@example.com
TRINITY, Fla. -- One by one, the tinted SUVs and the stretch limo carrying the Steinbrenner family pulled into Trinity Memorial Gardens - the final resting place of baseball's most noted owner.
In a private ceremony underneath a hot Florida sun Saturday, his wife, Joan, and their four children said goodbye to George Steinbrenner, who died of a heart attack Tuesday at the age of 80.
It was a quiet send-off for the hard-driving man who experienced a tumultuous career in baseball, yet endeared himself to the Tampa community because of his unwavering generosity.
The Steinbrenner family and the Yankees did not release any details concerning the funeral, but word of its whereabouts spread by midmorning.
Reporters, photographers and local television crews descended upon the cemetery but were asked by police to stand back about 150 yards behind the property's fence. A security detail was stationed in front of the brown double-doors that led to the chapel, and a steady stream of police cars came and left.
The loud buzzing of a circling news helicopter filled the air in the moments leading up to the family's arrival.
Jessica Steinbrenner and her husband, Yankees senior vice president Felix Lopez, pulled into the cemetery, located about 35 minutes from Steinbrenner's Tampa home, at about 1:30 p.m. in a tinted black Mercedes SUV. Her sister, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, arrived separately in a tinted blue Escalade a few minutes later. At about 2:35 p.m., Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner arrived with his older son in a stretch black limo and entered the chapel.
Between 35 and 40 people, including Yankees employees, attended the service. Flags on the premises were at half staff.
At about 3:40 p.m., a hearse drove up to a white-grayish mausoleum, followed by several SUVs. A casket, surrounded by Steinbrenner's sons Hank and Hal, was taken inside the crypt. Large arrangements of red and white flowers were positioned on both sides of the entrance.
The family spent about seven minutes inside the tomb and Joan Steinbrenner later shook hands with cemetery officials while mourners returned to their cars.
Police stopped traffic on State Road 54 at about 4:05 p.m. as the family caravan - which included a stretch limo, seven dark-colored SUVs, a Rolls-Royce and a Lexus - left the grounds.
Several curious commuters stopped their cars on the busy six-lane highway to ask whose funeral service was in progress.
Tampa resident Brendan Morgan, who was wearing a faded Yankees hat as he rode his bike in the cemetery before the funeral, said he saw the grounds crew working Friday night on the mausoleum believed to be Steinbrenner's.
The 33-year-old also said his soon-to-be father-in-law worked security for Steinbrenner and received a World Series ring from the team. (Morgan showed reporters a picture of the engraved championship ring on his smartphone as proof.)
Steinbrenner's funeral capped a series of tributes that began Thursday night on Long Island as the baseball team sponsored by Hank Steinbrenner known as "Hank's Yanks'' held a moment of silence for The Boss.
They continued with Friday night's tribute before the Yankees' home game against the Rays - the Yankees' first contest since the owner's death - and yesterday's Old-Timers' Day at the Stadium.
A public memorial service for Steinbrenner is expected to be held in the near future.