WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio- George Voinovich was Cleveland Mayor, Ohio governor and United States Senator. But above all he was a man of the people.
He will always be remembered for the great things he did. But he will be cherished for the little things that made people love him.
“I used to belong to this church and I’d see him at mass on Sunday and he just seemed like an ordinary person,” Judy Sullivan said as she listened to the Catholic Mass that was being played on a loudspeaker outside of Our Lady of The Lake Church in Euclid.
Others say he was always accessible. “He even came to the park when the girls had softball Howland Park for the little parade not to many people do that not to many mayors do that." Debbie Solnick said.
Folks gathered outside of the church Friday to share a story or a memory of their neighbor and friend. A way of showing respect, but also a way to say thank you George. “I want them to know this is how you honor someone that you care about.” Jackie Bowie brought her daycare children out to watch the proceedings. “Someone who life you respect and has done a lot for you and your country to make your world better when you grow up." She said.
The 79-year-old Voinovich died Sunday morning in his Collinwood home. He is survived by his beloved wife Janet, three children and many grandchildren. A fourth child, his youngest daughter, Molly, died back in 1979 in an tragic accident.
As services ended, people from all walks of life, all different politics, races and beliefs lined the steps of the church. That was the true power of George Voinovich; he kept things simple and direct but knew how to bring all different types of people together.
“At a time when Cleveland was in default at a time when a lot of people thought Cleveland’s best days were behind he didn't believe that he was the ultimate optimist." U.S. Senator Rob Portman said as he left the church.
Longtime friend former congresswoman Mary-Rose Oakar also reflected on her friends long career of public service as the service ended under bright blue skies.
“I think if George would have wanted anything he used to use that slogan together we can do it or something like that. And that's what we did; we all worked together because we were kids from Cleveland and we loved the city."
George Voinovich was buried at All Souls Cemetery.