Denmark’s second largest island is Funen (rhymes with “tune”). On the southwest coast of Funen is the small city of Faarborg (FAR-bore). Fay Williams lived in Faarborg for 43 years until her death on June 13, 2014, just eight days after her birthday. She was 78 years old.
On June 16, 2014 my mother and I flew to Denmark to represent the family at Fay’s funeral. Fay had been stricken with ovarian cancer, but she actually died of a brain hemorrhage in the hospital in Svendborg, about 17 miles east of her home.
The funeral was held on Saturday, June 21 in the Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Faarborg. Formerly a Catholic church, (Fay converted to Catholicism many years ago) the building is a beautiful structure more than 500 years old. There is a lovely cemetery on its border, and that is where Fay’s cremated remains were placed after our return to Detroit on June 23.
The eulogy was delivered by a female priest who Fay had known well. While approximately 90 percent of her remarks where in Danish, we were told afterwards by English-speaking attendees that the priest spoke eloquently. They said she accurately captured the impact that Fay had on the lives of people she met from all over the world. More than 100 people attended the funeral, representing seven countries besides Denmark: Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Japan, Korea and the United States.
I had the honor of being a pallbearer. On the previous occasions that I performed this role, I was part of all-male groups. Not so in Denmark: Half of the six pallbearers at Fay’s funeral were women.
Another difference in Fay’s funeral service was that there was no printed obituary, which I assume is the custom in Denmark.
For that reason, I asked Fay’s long-time roommate, Titta Kjaersgaard-Larsen, to provide details about Fay’s life so that her biography could be written for the family.