War correspondent hailed from Astoria

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OYSTER BAY, L.I. — More than 200 mourners filled St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church Monday for the funeral of war correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in Syria while covering the attacks by army troops on defenseless civilians.

TV cameras from all the networks were lined up on a lawn across the street as the high mass began with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” and six pallbearers carrying her casket into the church.

Colvin’s mother Rosemarie, sisters Eileen and Catherine and brothers William and Michael followed as a soloist began the hymn “Be Not Afraid.”

The Sunday Times of London correspondent was killed Feb. 22 when the building that served as a makeshift media center in the village of Homs was struck by a Syrian army mortar. Colvin’s body was finally recovered and flown home earlier this month.

Born in Astoria, Colvin grew up on Long Island. She was 56.

The high mass was heard by a crowd of more than 200 mourners, including executives and staff from the London Sunday Times. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sunday Times, attended along with members of the media from many parts of the world.

It was a moving service, with readings from some of Colvin’s friends, one of them saying God “gave her a voice for the voiceless” and another reading from 2 Timothy: “I have fought the good fight to the end: I have run the race to the finish.”

After the funeral, mourners were invited to the Crescent Club in nearby Bayville on Long Island Sound for a buffet lunch.

Colvin, who grew up in nearby East Norwich, was a graduate of Oyster Bay High School and Yale University. After a stint working at a trade magazine, she joined United Press International in New York in the early 1980s, earning laurels as an enterprising reporter, and transferred to the news agency’s Washington bureau.

She became UPI’s bureau chief in Paris, traveling to Libya in 1986 to cover the U.S. bombing of Tripoli in retaliation for the nation’s support of terrorists. She moved to the Sunday Times later that year.

In her years with the Sunday Times, she covered conflicts around the world, chronicling the toll taken on the innocent victims of combat in Europe, including Kosovo, and more recently the Middle East, where spontaneous uprisings pressing for democratic reform swept Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and then Syria.

Long before her death, she was widely extolled as the greatest war reporter of her generation.

At her wake Sunday, mourners passed by a portrait of Colvin by a Sri Lankan artist. She lost her left eye in 2001 in that country’s civil war and had worn her signature black eye patch since then.

A group of Sri Lankans gathered outside the church Monday to remember her courageous reporting from their war-torn country with placards saying, “Uncrowned queens of intrepid journalists.”

Posted 12:56 am, March 15, 2012
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