Astronaut Ronald E. McNair, killed in the Jan. 28 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, was buried yesterday near his home town of 7,000 people.
About 300 people, including 12 astronauts, attended the funeral at Wesley United Methodist Church, two blocks off Ron McNair Boulevard, Lake City's main street. McNair's flag-draped coffin, surrounded by flowers, sat in the front of the church before the funeral as an organist played "Amazing Grace."
"Ron and his crew mates touched that light" of the stars, actress Cicely Tyson, a friend of the family, said during the services. "They touched us. They touched the other sides of the stars for us."
The Rev. Eliott Mason said, "I see Ron as a primary model for people around the world, but especially for young black people who need a model so much in this day. We need a model for youth in avoiding the obstacles of life."
As the services ended, the choir sang "Reach Out and Touch Somebody," a song favored by McNair. His widow, Cheryl, grasped Tyson's hand as they walked down the aisle of the church. A line of about 100 cars wound about three miles from the church to a rural cemetery.
McNair's children -- Joy, 1, and Reggie, 4 -- sat with their mother at the grave as four Air Force jets flew low over the cemetery, with one fighter breaking off in the "Missing Man" formation.
Meanwhile, the father of Judith A. Resnik, another of the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger explosion, said President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan sent him a bouquet of roses last week at his Akron, Ohio, home with a message, "We have not forgotten you."
Marvin Resnik told a meeting of Ohio broadcasters that reporters generally were insensitive to his family's feelings about the shuttle disaster. "I don't know how many reporters asked me, 'What do you think are the chances that the astronauts died after they hit the water?' I finally got to the point where I said I have no comment.
"It's so difficult just to bear the tragedy without living with the constant reminders," he said.