Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott was remembered Saturday as a civic giant who remained calm amid adversity, and as a doting father and faithful friend.
"Michael, I will miss you," Mayor Richard Daley said, choking back emotion as he eulogized a man who worked on his 1983 campaign. "You were my best friend."
Scott's daughter, son and a female cousin were among those giving eulogies.
"Some say maybe he was overwhelmed. We who know him best know he loved life," the cousin said to loud applause. "He has never walked away from a challenge."
Among those in attendance were Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a slew of aldermen.
"This has rocked the City of Chicago. Michael Scott was like no other," said Ald. Sharon Dixon, 24th, whose ward includes the Lawndale neighborhood where Scott grew up and entered politics 30 years ago.
Yet many mourners left the service with a smile, describing it as a celebration of life. Friends and family read devotions, including a message of condolence from President Barack Obama.
At one point, all in attendance were asked to hug each other in Scott's memory. Family members urged people to trust in God. A soloist sang "Send in the Clowns," describing it as Scott's favorite song.
"I have been to a lot of funerals, and this was the most uplifting," said Michael Horne of New York, who said knew Scott for 40 years.