Roger Ailes, the founder of conservative TV network Fox News, received a patriotic Palm Beach funeral on Saturday attended by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, his colleague Sean Hannity, and Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel.
The mahogany coffin was draped with the Stars and Stripes and led into the breathtaking church by Palm Beach police color guards.
The U.S. flag was removed for the ceremony, then unfurled back on the coffin when it departed St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Palm Beach.
About 100 friends and family members were in the pews, mostly because the family kept funeral arrangements a secret. Three security guards were trying to keep gawkers away.
Laura Ingraham, another conservative radio host, was spotted consoling Zachary Ailes, Roger’s 17-year-old son. Former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich also showed up with his wife.
Also among the mourners: Miami celebrity lawyer Roy Black and his wife, former Real Housewives of Miami star Lea Black.
Ethel Kennedy, the 89-year-old widow of slain U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, took a place near the coffin with her son Douglas Kennedy, a Fox News reporter hired by Ailes despite his Democratic pedigree.
During the service, the younger Kennedy read from “Letters of Paul to the Romans,” a passage about how nothing can separate a believer from the love of God.
“My family used to ask why I would work in a place where everybody wants to kill me,” Kennedy said jokingly. “But Roger, who brought me to Fox, had such a big heart and the ability to connect with everybody. It’s never been a problem.”
Limbaugh, who lives near the $36 million mansion on the north side of Palm Beach that Ailes bought last year after his ouster from Fox News, sat near the front row with his wife, Kathryn.
“Roger Ailes was an American original,” Limbaugh said of his friend Ailes, adding that the two hung out socially in Palm Beach.
Fox News and radio host Hannity also had a role in the ceremony: He read a psalm.
“I wouldn’t be what I am today without Roger,” Hannity told GossipExtra outside the church. “He took me as a local radio host in Atlanta and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.
“He saw things in people that no one else would see. He is an American patriot of the highest level.”
Ailes died Wednesday at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, a week after he suffered a fall in his bathroom at home. He was 77.
Monsignor Thomas J. Klinzing told Gossip Extra that he was contacted by Ailes’ family on Friday for the Saturday service.
“Beth (his wife, Elizabeth) came to me Friday and asked that I officiate,” Klinzing said. “She asked me to base some of my readings on the theme of suffering. I believe Roger suffered quite a bit with those accusations.”
Klinzing was referring to his firing from the network he founded when last year then Fox News anchorwomen Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment. Carlson sued Ailes and Fox, and the settlement that was reached, about the time Ailes moved to Palm Beach, was rumored to be in the $20 million range.
An organ player upstairs and a cantor provided the music as Klinzing read from St. John, St. Paul and Revelations.
Ailes was more religious than some believed, according to Klinzing.
“Roger was a member of this church,” Klinzing said, adding that St. Edward was known as former President John F. Kennedy’s church when the Kennedys had a winter compound in Palm Beach. “Ever since he moved to Palm Beach, he came with Beth every Sunday.
“He was always in a wheelchair but he left it outside. He was a very proud man.”
Klinzing said Ailes was a Presbyterian but converted to Catholicism when he married Beth in 1998.
“He was quite sickly,” Klinzing said.