Whitney Houston Laid to Rest in Westfield

Procession arrived at noon Sunday for burial ceremony at Fairview Cemetery. Nearly 100 fans shouted 'We love you, Whitney' as hearse turned into the cemetery.

The vigil at Fairview Cemetery began at first light Sunday morning. There were no mourners, just reporters and photographers mingling congenially as they staked out a good spot for their reports back to the network morning shows or a position for the perfect photo of the funeral procession bringing Whitney Houston to the cemetery for her burial.

Police officers arrived before daylight, at 6 a.m., to secure every possible corner of the Fairview property, from the Cranford border along Union County College to the south and E. Broad Street to the north. At the western end of the cemetery, Gallows Hill Road was closed to prevent any neighborhood street from messing up any potential route in which the procession of hearses and limos that would come from the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, where Whitney Houston's body has been stored since it was flown home after the 48-year-old pop icon died Feb. 11 in a Beverly Hills hotel room.

By noon, when the funeral procession — a gold hearse and three gold limos, followed by 10 cars, led by by a motorcycle police escort from the Westfield and Newark police departments — finally arrived at Fairview's front gate, the crowd had grown to about 100 fans, who shouted in unison, "We love you Whitney!" and began serenading the passing vehicles with a chorus of her popular song, "I Will Always Love You".

"It was the perfect send off for her," said DeShawn Westin, the Linden resident who began the singing. "We were all here with love to say goodbye to an icon, and we are truly blessed to have had her in our lives. There will only be one Whitney and we love her."

"Her burial is true Whitney fashion," said Cranford resident Allison Knops. "She was always classy and refined. We lost a huge part of culture and I came out to give her a proper send-off. I love her and her music and I know she will always be looking down on her fans from Heaven."

Houston was memorialized in a funeral service Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she grew up. Her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, brought Whitney on stage as a child. She eventually was discovered as an 11-year-old prodigy. The funeral drew more than 1,500 family members, including her daughter, Bobbi Christina, Newark friends and an all-star list of mourners, including Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Tyler Perry, Kevin Costner, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Houston's cousin, singer Dionne Warwick.

Before 8:30 Sunday morning, the streets of Westfield were quiet. The only people near the cemetery were journalists, members of the Westfield and Union County police departments and a few E. Broad Street residents trying to navigate the temporary one-way set-up to get to church or grab breakfast. 

By 9:15, as rumors started to build about a posible 11 a.m. arrival for the funeral procession, more Westfield residents migrated toward the scene. Most said it was part of their Sunday-morning routine on a day that was anything but average.

"This is my normal Sunday jog," said Mary Cronin, 41. "It's weird  to see it this way. I liked Whitney, but it's strange to think I'm going to jog past her grave every day."

"I'm not sure what people are waiting for," said Tony Romano. "The only thing they will see is a hearse," said the 42-year-old Westfield resident. "I'm trying to get to my house and the entire road is blocked off. But I am surprised there isn't a bigger crowd here."

Along Gallows Hill Road, near Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, six residents gathered to chat with an officer patrolling the area. They sheepishly said, "Wow, I thought there was going to be a big crowd today."

They all watched for the top of the hill in the cemetery, where three police officers in day-glo yellow jackets patrolled the area near the gravesite.

Theresa Paulen, 47, was emotional about the day's impending events. 

"I'm here because Whitney was such a force in my life when I was growing up," the Westfield resident said. "I live in the area and I thought it was fitting that I say goodbye to her when her music has done so much for me."

Stay tuned to Patch for more news about the burial of Whitney Houston.

Mrs.Tonya February 20, 2012 at 02:35 AM
@Tom Thats very cruel to say
erwin1 February 20, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I just want to say, this is so many of our "normal" Sunday morning routines (walking, jogging, dog-walking...etc.) I applaud the residents of Westfield for respecting and honoring a NJ born citizen's rite to Rest In Peace. Thank you, Westfield citizens for having so much class!
Jas February 20, 2012 at 03:35 AM
tom- i do not think you would say that if this person was one of your loved ones!
iris February 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM
There always has to be a mindless person talking...if it was one of his family member he would want respect for them why is he even on this page????
RobertDubenezic February 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm glad the whitney fiasco is over. The media needs to stop glamorizing celebrity drug addicts.
Frank Drebin February 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM
NORTH ARLINGTON — Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca, who died supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, will be laid to rest following a private funeral Monday. Was the American Flag at half staff, or is that only for drug addicted "stars"?
South Westfielder February 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
If there is any place and any time anyone should be accepted regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. it is the cemetery. I would think that if there was ever a time when people should be released from the ugliness of human nature such as discrimination, snobbery, bias, or hatred it should be at the time of their passing. It is a shame that people cannot acknowledge and change their ugly ways before someone passes away. Anyone is welcome in Westfield - anyone is welcome to choose this place to live or be buried.
Redrider765 February 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Use google, it will save you the trouble of posting. Flags will be at half mast tomorrow.
Sir February 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Frank - very well said. While I feel for her family, the fact that we are celebrating someone who decided that feeding her desire for drugs was more important that raising her daughter, it's a shame that we are honoring her. Yes, she had a great voice (she threw away that talent btw) but the true hero's are those who serve the ultimate price protecting out country.
Hazel Barrett February 20, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Let's hope and pray that others in the entertaining industry will learn from the mistakes of celebraties like Michael Jackson, Anna Nichole and Whitney Houstan, etc. Life is too precious to waste on drugs when they have such an impact of world. Those alive still need to wake up and make a difference with the talents God has given them. Rest In Peace All. Others Live In Peace, Use your lives to make differences in this world that count for Eternity. Thank God for forgiveness and second chances. Use yours wisely. God bless the families, and children learn from the mistakes of your famous parents and go in the opposite direction.
Frank Drebin February 20, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Redrider765 He is being buried today!
Redrider765 February 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
And it is a federal holiday today. I somehow doubt anyone is around at most of the state run facilities today to put any flag at full or half mast.
Frank Drebin February 20, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Then who lowers the flag on Dec 7th?
Frank Drebin February 20, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I forgot July 4th all other federal holidays?
Ricky February 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
If you ever smoked for an extended period, if you ever drank alcohol in the past and still do, if you ever drank coffee in the past and still do, then that makes you a drug addict as well. Whether it be nicotine, alcohol, caffeine or whatever the chemical of your choice you use on a regular basis, then you were or are also a drug addict. A drug is a chemical is a drug is a chemical... is a....
NJP February 20, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Looks like blessingmabar may be "packin" a virus???
Carol February 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM
AMEN to that Hazel. There are too many lives lost each year from drug addition, I hope and pray that this will open some eyes. To the family of Whitney Houstan may God give you comfort and peace at this time. Focus on the Lord He will not let you down.
T Zinger February 25, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I agree Frank. A huge SHAME ON YOU to the Hopatcong Patch for not recognizing Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca. Too concerned about all of the gossip instead of what is important. Shame on the Gov too. How could he be so quick to have the flag lowered for someone who gave into their drug addiction but not for a Marine fron NJ, killed in the line of duty? What a disgrace.
Hedley February 25, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Yes, coffee is just like cocaine.
Monk February 25, 2012 at 09:44 PM
The Whitney Houston shrine was being guarded by two Westfield police officers this morning when I jogged past Fairview Cemetary. Thanks to the parents and educators for instilling the proper values and priorities in us.
bob March 04, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Last time I check, the flag at half-staff is reserved for military people who fought and lost there lives for our country and pasting of presidents. Governor of NJ lower and place the flag at half-staff for Whitney Houston, a drug addict. What message are we saying to our children in our schools?
ManOfNJ March 06, 2012 at 06:11 AM
@Ricky: the difference is that nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are all legal. They are not fair comparisons. While I agree that alcohol, tobacco and even caffeine can all be dangerous when addicted and there are situations where long-term addiction to all of those products can take a toll on your body, they are not at the same level as cocaine or heroin by ANY stretch of the imagination. @bob: Come on man, you talk about sending a good message to the children in our schools, I bet 95% of those kids would recognize all the grammatical errors you made. Proofread your work man, you made a good point but I literally couldn't see past "check", "there" and "pasting". I know I'm being a grammar Nazi, but I really weep for the future of the written word when I look at how poorly written things on the internet can be.
Monk March 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Whitney Houston tomb update: As of Saturday morning, March 3rd, there was one Westfield police cruiser with officer guarding the entrance of Fairview cemetary. Cheesy plastic barriers and fences remain in place.
BeachBum March 06, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Yawn - Who Cares!
Concerned Shitizen May 02, 2012 at 12:22 PM
The worms dont even want to eat Whitney Houston.
shirrone spivey November 27, 2012 at 10:12 PM


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