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Mary Tyler Moore's son eulogized at funeral

By
VERNON SCOTT

HOLLYWOOD -- Mary Tyler Moore wept Saturday during a half-hour memorial tribute to her only child, who died Tuesday of a self inflicted shotgun blast.

Miss Moore, dressed in a black suit and magenta and black blouse, sat through the ceremony at Westwood Memorial Park and Mortuary with her estranged husband, Grant Tinker, who kept his arm around her throughout the tribute paid to her son by longtime friends.

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The outdoor services were conducted beneath an enormous oak tree at the trunk of which rested the casket of Miss Moore's son, Richard Carlton Meeker Jr., 24.

Meeker died while playing 'she loves me, she loves me not,' rhythmically loading and unloading a 410 shotgun in the bedroom of the home he shared near the University of Southern California with two co-eds.

Miss Moore and Tinker were flanked in the only eight chairs on the cemetery lawn by Miss Moore's relatives and the Meeker family from Sacramento, including Richard Carlton Meeker Sr., the dead youth's father.

Most of the 200 mourners attending the private services were associates of Miss Moore and Tinker during the years of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'

Actor Edward Asner conducted the nonsectarian rites informally, recalling the youthful Meeker and his blossoming into manhood.

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Asner said he 'tried to charm the young man because I like kids, but also because he was the boss's kid. But I lost out when he fell under the spell of Ted (Knight), who charms all children.'

Knight, who played anchorman Ted Baxter on the show, along with Gavin McLeod, (Murray) and Valerie Harper (Rhoda) attended, in addition to writers and directors Jim Brooks, Jay Sandrich, Alan Burns, and Carl Reiner.

Music was provided by a flutist and harpist under the oak tree on a warm autumn afternoon only 10 minutes from the Tinkers' Bel Air residence.

One of his roommates, Judy Vasquez, said Meeker was murmuring repeatedly, 'She loves me, she loves me not,' when the gun discharged in his face. She said he had been talking minutes earlier to a girlfriend in Fresno.

His other roommate, Janet McLaughlin, said Meeker did not use 'dope, alcohol or pills,' and had no reason to commit suicide. She termed the shooting just a 'bizarre accident.'

Authorities agreed it would probably never be determined if the shooting was an accident or suicide. 'Everything was going perfect in his life,' Miss McLaughlin said. 'If they're looking for something sordid in this, they aren't going to find it.'

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Miss Moore, Tinker, and Meeker's Father, Richard Meeker Sr., of Sacramento, also described the youth as happy and well adjusted.

The coroner's office was performing pathological tests to determine if there were any drugs in Meeker's body at the time of the incident.

Miss Moore was in New York when the accident occurred. She was phoned by Tinker early the next morning, a call he said, 'completely destroyed her.' She returned to Los Angeles that morning and remained in seclusion.

Tinker said she was 'holding up pretty well,' but stressed that she needed privacy.

'Mary just couldn't take it if a lot of strangers showed up (at the funeral)' he said. 'This is a time in her life when she needs all the privacy she can get.

'She has moments of terrible sadness, of course, but she's strong. She's hanging in there. She will be fine, but it's going to take time.'

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