Mourners pack auditorium for John Glenn’s life celebration


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mourners who braved cold and icy roads packed an Ohio State University auditorium Saturday for a memorial service for space pioneer John Glenn as his casket advanced through the center of the his home state’s capital city in a somber processional.

Roughly 2,500 people gathered at Mershon Auditorium for a memorial service called “a celebration of life” for the former fighter pilot, astronaut and longtime Democratic U.S. senator from small-town Ohio.

Democratic Vice President Joe Biden is among those expected to take part in the Saturday afternoon service. A host of other dignitaries, including present Gov. John Kasich and former Govs. Richard Celeste and Ted Strickland, members of Ohio’s congressional delegation and university leaders, were in attendance.

Glenn died Dec. 8 at age 95.

The service was preceded by a musical medley that included hymns, arias and popular songs. Some — including Nat King Cole’s “Smile” and Susan Boyle’s version of “Impossible Dream” — nodded to Glenn’s optimism. Others, including “You Are My Sunshine,” ”Moon River” and Shirley Jones singing “Goodnight, My Someone” — recalled Glenn’s long love affair with wife, Annie, who survives him.

Thousands of visitors, including Democratic U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, visited the Ohio Statehouse on Friday to pay their respects as Glenn lay in honor. He will be buried in a private ceremony this spring at Arlington Cemetery near Washington, D.C.