Marie Colvin remembered by friends, family, strangers

Marie Catherine Colvin's mother, Rose Marie Colvin, and Marie Catherine Colvin's mother, Rose Marie Colvin, and one of Marie's nephews at the wake for Marie in Oyster Bay. (March 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Adam Nadel/The Sunday Times

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The body of foreign correspondent Marie Colvin lay in Oyster Bay Funeral Home this weekend, close to the small hamlet where she was raised and far from the war zones where she had practiced her craft for decades.

Neighbors who'd seen Colvin grow up, friends from across the globe and strangers who credit her with giving voice to their people's struggle for freedom all came with one purpose: to honor a woman they remember as having a singular intelligence, warmth and bravery.

"She amplified the courage of everyone she knew, which was a remarkable gift" said Claire Enders, a Yale classmate who traveled from London to attend Colvin's wake.

Raised in East Norwich, Colvin graduated in 1974 from Oyster Bay High School. Neighbor Dawn Cole remembers Colvin as intrepid even as a girl, traveling abroad in her teens and racing sailboats.

"It was an honor to know her," Cole said. "She was a marvelous person, even as a child."

Colvin would go on to earn acclaim as a correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, reporting from the most volatile global flashpoints of the last quarter-century.

In 2001, while working in Sri Lanka, she lost her left eye to a hand grenade. Rather than use a prosthetic, she wore a black eye patch.

Colvin was killed by a rocket attack in the embattled Syrian city of Homs on Feb. 22 at age 56. She'd been urged to leave Homs, but had insisted on staying to file one more dispatch.

Several Syrian-Americans attended Colvin's wake, although they did not know her personally. Malek Jandali traveled from Atlanta to attend.

"She was reporting the truth in my homeland," Jandali said. "It's the least I could do to be here . . . and pay respect to her beautiful soul."

Seetharam Sibam, a Sri Lankan man from Holbrook, came for the same reason and presented Colvin's family with a portrait of her, complete with eye patch.

"No one else did as much as her in bringing my country's issues out in the mainstream media," Sibam said. "She lost one eye doing it. And then she kept going," in Sri Lanka and to other violent conflicts.

"She was the best war correspondent of her generation," said Christopher Dickey of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, who met Colvin in 1986 while covering the American bombing of Libya.

Former foreign correspondent and foreign service member Elizabeth Colton also met Colvin in Libya that year. Colton said her friend was a peerless talent and generous spirit.

They last met in August in Cairo, where Colton was a press attache at the American embassy. Colvin admired a stylish turquoise shirt of Egyptian cotton. She bought herself one, then later got one for Colton.

"That's my treasure now," Colton said of the gift.

A funeral Mass will be offered Monday at 11 a.m. at The Church of Saint Dominic, 93 Anstice St., Oyster Bay. Colvin's body will be cremated at her request.

With Kery Murakami

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