WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Al Gore and members of the Kennedy family were among the hundreds of mourners gathered in Nashville Monday to attend the funeral of longtime Tennessee-based newspaper editor John Seigenthaler.
Seigenthaler, a champion of civil rights and freedom of the press, died Friday at the age of 86.
A lifelong Nashvillian, Seigenthaler joined The Tennessean as a reporter in 1949 and went on to become its editor and publisher. He took a brief hiatus in 1960 to act as the administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and again in 1968 to work on Kennedy's presidential campaign.
Seigenthaler served as a pallbearer at Robert Kennedy's funeral. On Monday, Kennedy's widow, Ethel, brought her sons, former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and Robert Kennedy, Jr., and her grandson, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, to say their goodbyes.
In 1976, he encouraged Gore, then working for him as an investigative reporter, to run for U.S. Congress.
Gore, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, former Nashville Mayor Richard Fulton, and current Mayor Karl Dean were all present in the packed Cathedral of the Incarnate, where mourners sang "This Little Light of Mine" and Emmylou Harris led the congregation in "We Shall Overcome."
After retiring from The Tennessean, Seigenthaler went on to serve as the founding editorial director of USA Today and as the president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
He is survived by his wife, Dolores Watson-Seigenthaler, and his son, John Michael Seigenthaler, an anchor for Al Jazeera America.