Nancy Cruzan's family gave her "the gift of freedom" by disconnecting her feeding tube and allowing her to die after nearly eight years in a vegetative state, her father said Friday at her funeral.

"It was time," Joe Cruzan told about 200 people gathered at a chapel. "We all feel good that Nancy is free at last."Cruzan, 33, died Wednesday at Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon, 12 days after her family won court permission to disconnect the feeding tube that kept her alive.

"She did not die in vain," her father said.

The family's legal efforts to end her life led to a landmark Supreme Court decision June 25 that patients like Cruzan could be allowed to die if there was "clear and convincing" evidence that was their wish.

Cruzan had been in a persistent vegetative state after suffering severe brain damage in a 1983 car accident. Her parents and former co-workers said it was her desire to die rather than live in such a state.