Karen Carpenter's Funeral 

Karen was taken at 9:10am to the Utter McKinley funeral home the morning after her death, Saturday 5th Feb. A closed casket visitation was held at Forest Lawn on Sunday. Richard had a photo of Karen set top of the casket. Close family and friends attended. This was apparently when her (almost ex) husband threw his wedding ring into her casket.


Karen was formally farewelled on Tuesday 8th February, 1983 at Downey Methodist Church. 500 had been invited, but over 1000 attended. The funeral was private, however the service was broadcast outside for the fans who had gathered outside the church.

The service was preceded by an instrumental rendering of a Carpenters medley including Rainy Days and Mondays, Close To You, and We've Only Just Begun. The pallbearers were Herb Alpert, Steven Alpert, John Bettis, Werner Wolfen, Gary Sims, Eddie Sulzer, David Alley and Ed Lefler. Honorary pallbearers were Olivia Newton John, Burt Bacharach, Dorothy Hamill and Cubby O'Brien.
(Note: I obtained this information about the pallbearers from the internet, however it does not match that in the Carpenter official biography. If you can shed any light on this, please email webmistress@karencarpenter.com).


Karen's casket was white with little pink daisies. She was laid to rest in her favourite pink suit. There is some debate as to whether this may be the pink suit Karen wore after her wedding.


The following is an exerpt from Ray Coleman's 1994 biography, The Carpenters, The Untold Story. I have integrated some relevant photos from the day.

A feeling of palpable love, grief, anger, and bewilderment swept over the funeral on February 8, 1983. Five hundred people crammed into Downey Methodist Church and another five hundred were outside, many of them locals who knew Karen as the simple, home-loving girl who had never really left this town.

 

After an emotional, tearful embrace of Richard, Herb Alpert led the six pallbearers: Werner Wolfen, David Alley, Gary Sims, Roger Young and Ed Sulzer.

   

     

Olivia Newton John, Dionne Warwick, and Burt Bacharach were among those who heard the service begin with a pianist playing Carpenters hits.

   
 
The Reverend Charles A. Neal, who officiated, recalled his years as their pastor at Park Methodist Church, New Haven: "evenings spent in the basement of their home with Ping-Pong sets, hi-fi, baseballs, and more records than I had ever seen... our two girls finding in Karen a friend, baby-sitter, and confidente.". He spoke of the "spontaneous outpouring of love and grief for one of God's truly talented and gifted daughters who has died so young". Suddenly, he reflected, in the midst of the rock era, the world had been graced with a new song.

 

"Ave Maria," one of Karen's favourite songs, was sung by the choir of California State University featuring her old friend Dennis Heath. A distraught Terry Ellis held a weeping Carol Curb's hand throughout the service. A noteable absentee from the funeral was Jerry Weintraub. Too broken up to attend, he flew away from California to expunge the reality of the day.

A few days before the service, Tom Burris had thrown into Karen's casket his wedding ring.
 
 

From the church, Karen's coffin was taken to a marble crypt in the mausoleum of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cypress, California. Lustrous gold letters on the crypt read:
"Karen 1950-1983. A star on earth. A star in heaven.".

Click here to see Karen's final resting place.


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