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  June 1, 1999

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Sharing tears for Owen
Family and fans gather to mourn

OWEN HART FUNERAL GUESTS Hulk Hollywood Hogan joins Stu and Helen Hart's son-in-laws Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith at the Hart house following Owen Hart's funeral, May 31 1999 -- Dave Chidley, Calgary Sun.

By MICHAEL PLATT -- Calgary Sun
  Wrestling stars and fans alike grappled with tears and sorrow yesterday as a Calgary sports hero was laid to rest.
 Initial applause from a crowd excited over the presence of such superstars as Hulk Hogan and The Rock at the funeral soon gave way to sobbing, as the grieving widow of Owen Hart paid tribute to her husband, killed in the ring last week.
 "Before I start today, I would just like to say that I loved him, I loved him, I loved him, and I miss him," said Martha Hart, Owen's high school sweetheart, and wife of 10 years.
 "He was my whole world -- I don't know how to say goodbye.
 "I don't know how to let go."
 Martha's tear-choked words filled the McInnis & Holloway Chapel on Elbow Dr. and 50 Ave. S.W., where 300 mourners listened, including Hart's family and such dignitaries as Premier Ralph Klein, Mayor Al Duerr and former Flame Lanny McDonald.
 Outside, loudspeakers carried Martha's strained voice to a muted crowd of more than 1,000, bringing even teenage male wrestling fans to tears.
 Martha refused to lay direct blame for death of her husband, killed May 23 when a high-wire harness broke, fatally dropping him nine storeys into a wrestling ring in Kansas City.
 Instead, the widow promised that those responsible would eventually answer for the death of the 34-year-old Hart.
 "I'm a very forgiving person and I'm not bitter or angry, but there will be a day of reckoning," she sobbed.
 "This is my final promise to Owen, and I won't let him down."
 World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon, blamed by many for the kind of spectacle that claimed Owen, sat silently in the chapel's back row, surrounded by the 30 or-so professional wrestlers he'd flown in for the funeral.
 Many of those in the crowd outside had come to see wrestling stars including the Undertaker and Mankind, who pulled up in three white buses marked with banners with slogans like "Owen we love you and will always remember you."
 Nearly every wrestler wore a black arm band reading "Owen."
 Hart's equally-famous brother, Bret, brought smiles to sombre faces with stories of their fighting days.
 "Owen was absolutely the best husband and father that I ever saw, and I think it's fitting that he's always remembered for that," said Bret.
 "But he was also a level-headed and wholesome guy who couldn't avoid a prank," added The Hitman, sharing tales of joke phone calls and Owen's childhood wrestling matches between the family cat and his stuffed toy monkey.
 "They were really truly entertaining matches -- he'd whack the cat and then you knew it was game time."
 Laughter followed both outside the chapel and inside, where the entire Hart clan sat before Owen's open casket, which was surrounded by a forest of flowers.
 Throughout the ceremony, Owen's son, Oje, and daughter, Athena, sat bravely with their mother in the front row.
 The service ended with a video tribute to Owen's life, in which family footage dominated, and wrestling shots were restricted to the odd picture of Hart in his uniform.
 Following the ceremony, which also featured live music by Owen's favourite country singer Collin Raye, Hart's grim-faced parents, Stu and Helen, led the family back to waiting limousines.
 A white hearse led the way, followed by 13 limousines, 3 buses and 72 other vehicles, blocking traffic on Deerfoot Tr. as the procession made it's way to a private burial at Queen's Park Cemetery.
 Friends and wrestlers later gathered at the Hart family home in southwest Calgary.

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