With a New Orleans-style jazz band blaring and dancing ladies pumping their parasols to the beat, the hearse of America's baby doctor, Benjamin Spock, rolled down La Jolla's main street Friday in the traffic-stopping procession he had requested.
Spock, who is credited with revolutionizing parenting for the baby boom generation with his book, "Baby and Child Care," died Sunday at his home in La Jolla. He was 94.In his 1989 memoir, "Spock on Spock," he included directions for his memorial service, which were followed precisely Friday.
"I dislike intensely the atmosphere of the conventional funeral: the darkened room, the solemn people, silent or whispering or sniffling.
"My ideal would be the New Orleans black funeral, in which friends snake-dance through the streets to the music of a jazz band."
He got it.
With sunny skies and a gentle ocean breeze blowing the tops of palm trees, about 150 people gathered at the tile-roofed St. James By-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
"We won't see the likes of him again, not even one who brings him to mind," said William Coffin, a Boston minister and friend of the pediatrician.
Coffin's eulogy was sprinkled with humor, politics, patriotism and spirituality. He recounted Spock's life, from his birth in New Haven, Conn., to his frail years in La Jolla.
He said Spock's greatest accomplishment was as a pediatrician who listened to mothers and told them, "Trust yourself; you know more than you think you do."
At the end of the service, his family and friends ushered the coffin out of the Spanish mission-style church where they were met by the Flip Oaks Jazz Party Dixieland Band.
At one point, Spock's widow, Mary Morgan, climbed on top of the hearse with her black parasol and danced a little jig.