With late pop star Whitney Houston's funeral scheduled for noon today and her burial at Westfield's Fairview Cemetery expected to take place sometime this weekend, Westfielders shared their thoughts on the icon being laid to rest in town.
Molly McDermott Walsh, who was born and raised in Westfield, said Houston's music provided a soundtrack to her early years.
"I grew up listening to Whitney Houston," she said. "I have very vivid memories of emulating my first true music idol, hairbrush in hand while belting out 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody,' wearing a terrible puff-paint splattered shirt, tied at the bottom, as was popular during the 1980s.
"Whitney Houston was a musician that I loved and respected as young girl, and was always sad to hear the trouble and pain she so publicly endured. Westfield is a pretty quiet town, that has somehow managed to keep the 'small town America' feel throughout all the years. I believe that Whitney's family made the right decision in burying her close to her father in a small, simple town such as ours. Out of the limelight, away from the troubles - I hope Whitney is finally at peace.
"That said, I hope fans of hers understand what a special place Westfield is, and show our town the same respect they've shown her through the years. Having lived in Westfield for most of my life, I know many, many people buried at Fairview - and know that may of them would not appreciate a TMZ/press circus surrounding their last resting place. I hope that the grounds and plots surrounding what is sure to become a memorial to this lost artist are able to still rest in peace."
"Now that I've thought about it, I have mixed feelings," Maros said. "Celebrity grave-sites often end up becoming shrines to the departed celeb, and crazed fans travel far and wide to visit these graves and aren't necessarily respectful of neighboring graves. Since my father is also resting at Fairview I have some concern. Of course, as a business owner in town, I suspect that Westfield might benefit from such attention. We'll see. In any event, it's kind of cool."
Westfield Board of Education member and music director for Washington School's annual production, Mitch Slater includes a tribute to singers who have passed away within the past year during the play's intermission. This year, Slater honored the E Street Band's Clarence Clemons.
"I think the bigger issue is not where she is buried but the true sadness of her addiction that led her down East Broad Street to Fairview at such a young age," Slater said.
"I guess the people prefer to remember the successful, talented Whitney of the '80s and early '90s and not the cultural punchline of the last ten years or so," he said. "Everyone wanted to see her succeed because America loves a good comeback story, but ultimately, she was her own worst enemy."
How do you feel about Whitney Houston being laid to rest in Westfield? Tell us in the comments.