Lowell P. Weicker Jr. was remembered Monday as a man of courage and complexity, eulogized by a governor and former U.S. senator as a politician who repeatedly risked all over principle, blessed with a confidence and compass that made him easy to admire if not hard to take.

“You’ve heard it said that Lowell Weicker was one of a kind,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “Thank goodness. More than one would have been exhausting.”

The mourners at St. Barnabas Church in Greenwich laughed, some more knowingly than others. The pews were crowded by three generations of Weickers, their friends and Weicker’s former staffs. More softly, Lamont quickly added that “more like him” would be welcome in contemporary politics.

“He loved the back and forth and give and take of politics, no question about it,” Lamont said. “Like them all, he loved to win. But unlike most politicians, he wasn’t afraid to lose. And that gave him a certain liberating courage. He had a Teddy Roosevelt fearlessness to me.”

Weicker, who died last week at 92 after months of failing health, was a third-party governor and Connecticut’s last Republican senator. 

He was eulogized by two Democrats, Lamont and former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd; a former Washington and Hartford staffer, Stanley A. Twardy; and two sons, Scot and Gray Weicker. Dodd said Weicker showed during Watergate that he was unwilling to fall under the thrall of party or personality.

“Many remember Lowell’s stirring moment when he scolded the White House, declaring that our fellow Americans are not enemies to be harassed but people to be loved and won — a statement that is as meaningful today as it was then,” Dodd said.

The children and step children of Weicker’s three marriages were pallbearers and did readings. Tre and Sonny Weicker, sons from his second marriage, stood together while Tre read from the Book of Isaiah. Sonny, who has Down Syndrome, was one of their father’s inspirations for sponsoring the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Scot and Gray Weicker described their father as a doting grandfather, the “pop” presiding over Christmas Eve gift-giving, proud of the grandson who followed his passion in scuba diving and granddaughter who organized his Senate papers at the University of Virginia.

Scot said his father and daughter, Amanda, both spoke on the National Mall for Amanda’s graduation from George Washington University. The daughter was terrified, the father not so much.

“He thrived, as he loved being in front of as many people as humanly possible,” Scot said.

This was not news to the mourners, who laughed.

“It just seemed like he was going to live forever,” Gray said. “He had a disdain for water. He drank Diet Coke and bourbon — not together — ate pound cake, cheesecake or rum cake for breakfast and lived to 92. Truly miraculous.”

Former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and wife, Cathy, sat with the congressional delegation and statewide constitutional officers, all Democrats. Republicans were represented by former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, former state Sen. John McKinney, former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and at least two current office holders from Greenwich, state Sen. Ryan Fazio and First Selectman Fred Camillo.

Before and after the funeral, politicians of different parties and generations mingled, sharing gossip and stories.

Ted Kennedy Jr. recalled visiting Weicker after returning from South Africa, where he had accepted an award on behalf of his late father, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, and Weicker, both ardent foes of apartheid. Weicker once was arrested demonstrating outside the South African embassy in Washington.

William Nickerson, the former Republican state senator from Greenwich who cast a crucial vote in favor of the income tax, was seated not far from U.S. Rep. John Larson, a Democrat who voted against the tax as state Senate leader. Joette Katz, whom Weicker nominated to the state Supreme Court, was ushered to the front.

Dodd, Lamont and Malloy reminisced, standing in the aisle. Former state Treasurer Shawn Wooden greeted them. Attorney General William Tong stopped by.

Only when the organ began playing, first softly and then loud enough to make conversation impossible, did they sit. The scene was repeated outside, where the conversations delayed the procession to the cemetery.

“This is the part Lowell would have liked,” said Claudia Weicker, his widow.

An arrangement of white roses by door came from President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. “Dear Claudia — Our hearts are broken for you and your entire family. We are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. With all our love, Jill and Joe Biden.”

St. Barnabas, a cozy church with the ambience of a country chapel, was chosen despite its modest size. Its rows of walnut pews hold only 250, but video and audio was streamed in an overflow room, as well as on CT-N. Weicker was a founding member of the church, which opened in 1961. He and his wife, Claudia, were married there in 1984.

Claudia Weicker was first to stand as a song began, signaling her husband’s coffin was entering the sanctuary. CT-N

As Lamont noted, Weicker was a product of Park Avenue and Greenwich yet destined to be one his generation’s most earnest and effective defenders of the social safety net.

His career was bookended by two epic battles: As a freshman senator, he aggressively pursued the abuses of Richard Nixon and his White House staff during Watergate; as governor, won the passage of a Connecticut tax on wages. 

“It was quickly apparent to all he wasn’t there to protect his party’s president, nor his party. In the face of emerging facts, Lowell Weicker made sure a lantern was held up to the darkness, and the people across this country, the people of this country, noticed,” Dodd said of Watergate.

But Dodd said Weicker’s other battles — fighting deep budget cuts and pushing for funding for drug trials that saved lives during the AIDS epidemic — should not be forgotten.

After six years in the House, Dodd took his seat in the Senate in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became president and Republicans won a majority in the Senate. Reagan proposed deep budget cuts, and Weicker fought back as chair of a key Appropriations subcommittee.

“He won millions of dollars in concessions and preserved the society safety net, and impacted the lives of millions as a result,” Dodd said.

His vivid memories of Weicker turn on fights.

“I recall vividly Lowell taking the floor of the United States Senate and leading a very successful filibuster to defend the Constitution and the rights of women and minorities, on the issue of abortion, school prayer and busing,” Dodd said.

Twardy, who became U.S. attorney under Weicker’s sponsorship, said Weicker was most animated fighting assaults on the constitution, especially the effort by Jesse Helms to strip the federal courts’ jurisdiction over busing. Weicker saw Helms’ effort as a threat to an independent judiciary.

“The rights of all of us as Americans, stands to reason, are best protected by three — far better than two, far better than one — three separate but equal branches of government,” Twardy said, quoting his old boss.

Weicker was a lover of music, especially opera. Mourners left to the strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” but the title of a hymn played earlier may have had greater resonance.

It was, “The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.