An article yesterday implied that the late Patricia Roberts Harris had made detailed plans for her funeral. She had made suggestions rather than detailed plans.
Patricia Roberts Harris, the former cabinet secretary and diplomat who died of cancer Saturday, was buried here yesterday after emotional and politically tinged services at the Washington Cathedral attended by former President Jimmy Carter, House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill and hundreds of others whose lives were touched or changed by her remarkable career.
The elegant ceremony, which included the Howard University Chorale singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and seven eulogies, offered a bittersweet requiem for a major public figure and civil rights activist whose overwhelming drive, unbending will and cutting intellect won her many admirers but also made her enemies. Harris planned the ceremony, including songs and speakers, a few months before her death.
Carter, who appointed Harris to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development and later the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services), recalled her as a "tough, honest, strong" administrator with a low threshold of outrage over injustices.
With two high-ranking Reagan administration officials in attendance, a playful Carter said he couldn't imagine ever going to Harris with a proposal to substitute ketchup for a vegetable in the federal school lunch program -- a proposal floated during President Reagan's first term.
Margaret M. Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services, sat stone-faced while the nearly 1,200 other mourners chuckled. Samuel R. Pierce Jr., Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also attended.
"She was sometimes abrasive, even explosive, when circumstances warranted such an action," Carter said.
O'Neill, showing emotion as he recalled his longtime friendship and political alliance with Harris, recalled that "Pat saw things as they were and went about to change them."
Harris overcame the "double dose" of discrimination that befell a black woman who sought a career in politics and the law beginning in the late 1940s.
"Pat spent a lifetime overcoming barriers," O'Neill said. "She was always willing to take on a job, paying no mind to the skeptics. She made believers out of the doubters."
Harris, the daughter of an Illinois dining car waiter who first came to Washington as a college student at Howard, spent much of her career achieving "firsts."
She was the first black woman in the cabinet, the first black woman to become an ambassador or dean of a law school, and the first black to serve as a United States delegate to the United Nations.
Pearl Watson, a doctor and a lifelong friend of Harris, expressed irritation with those who questioned Harris' credentials as a leader in the civil rights movement. .
"It has always been very distressing to me that anyone, especially the Johnny-come-latelies," would be critical of her, Watson said.
"She was unshakeable and unswerving . . . and never, never compromised her integrity," Watson said. ". . . The whole world has lost a truly precious jewel."
On a day marked by warm, sunny weather, a large segment of the city's political and civil rights community turned out to honor Harris.
Among those attending were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.); Vernon Jordan, former executive director of the National Urban League; D.C. Mayor Marion Barry; D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy; City Council Chairman David A. Clarke and other council members.
Also, former D.C. Mayor Walter E. Washington; Joseph Califano, a lawyer and former Carter administration official; Joseph Rauh, a prominent lawyer, developer Oliver T. Carr and Democratic National Committeeman John Hechinger.
But mostly the cavernous sanctuary was filled with those with whom she had worked, whom she taught, whom she had angered but who had come to respect her and those whom she inspired.
President Reagan sent a message of condolence to Harris' mother, Hildren Roberts, who along with several other members of the family attended the service and the burial at Rock Creek Cemetery. Reagan said that he and his wife know as parents that "no burden weighs as heavily" as the loss of a child.
Harris' death from cancer came five months after her husband of 29 years, William B. Harris, an administrative law judge with the Federal Maritime Commission, died at age 70. She was 60.
Sharon Pratt Dixon, the District's Democratic National Committeewoman and a political disciple of Harris, recalled the final difficult days of Harris' illness, when nothing Dixon tried to do or suggest could cheer her up. She first told Dixon those things had never mattered to her.
"I said, 'Is there nothing that can bring you joy?' " Dixon recalled. Dixon said that Harris thought for a long moment or two and then replied, "Bill Harris."