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
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
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
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
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.
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.
an emotional, tearful embrace of Richard, Herb Alpert led the six
pallbearers: Werner Wolfen, David Alley, Gary Sims, Roger Young and Ed
Newton John, Dionne Warwick, and Burt Bacharach were among those who
heard the service begin with a pianist playing Carpenters hits.
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.
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.
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.".