A public funeral will be held Friday morning for Jack Kevorkian before the famed advocate of physician-assisted suicide is buried in White Chapel Cemetery beside his parents and his sister.
Kevorkian, 83, died Friday at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak of complications from pneumonia and kidney problems.
His lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, said he originally intended to keep the funeral private but changed his mind in response to an overwhelming number of telephone calls and emails.
"So many people want to be there," Morganroth said. "They are expressing that they are very sad and they want to see him off."
The former Oakland County pathologist believed doctors should be allowed to help their patients end terminal illnesses and unbearable suffering as a medical procedure.
He enraged authorities, who called him "Dr. Death," and rallied supporters around the globe in the 1990s by helping 130 people end their lives with various suicide machines he had invented. The devices allowed patients themselves to start the introduction of fatal chemicals.
Kevorkian had said he turned down four out of five patient requests and only took cases after extensive medical record reviews and interviews. His opponents said he killed some people who weren't even sick.
Patient number 130 was Thomas Youk, a man stricken by Lou Gehrig's Disease, whom Kevorkian said couldn't throw the switch by himself. A video recording of Kevorkian administering the fatal procedure was broadcast nationwide on the CBS's "60 Minutes."
Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25 year sentence for his conviction on a charge of second-degree murder for Youk's death.
Before his release in 2007, Kevorkian vowed to refrain from ever again assisting in a suicide, but he traveled the country lecturing and signing his books of art, poetry and on topics like overpopulation. Last April, HBO aired a biopic movie called "You Don't Know Jack: The Life and Deaths of Jack Kevorkian," in which actor Al Pacino portrayed Kevorkian.
At the Detroit premiere of the film, Kevorkian said, "This is an ethical practice. One that doctors should be able to practice without fear. Once something is declared ethical, it is covered by law. Not religion or politicians."
The 9:30 a.m. service, in the memorial chapel at the cemetery on Long Lake Road, will be brief.
"He wasn't a religious man, so I expect a few people will speak and we will say goodbye," Morganroth said.[email protected]