Thousands expected for McNair memorial services

Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:05am

Several miles from downtown and just minutes after Wednesday’s announcement that police detectives had ruled that Steve McNair’s death was indeed a murder-suicide, Bishop Joseph Walker III spoke to a scattering of media representatives and celebrated the life of the former Titans quarterback.

At Mount Zion Baptist Church, where McNair will be eulogized Thursday, Bishop Walker, McNair’s pastor, described McNair as a great humanitarian and a close friend.

The bishop remarked how McNair joined the church when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and since that time had helped to raise “half a million dollars over six years” for charity.

Bishop Walker did address the negative stigma created by the circumstances of McNair’s death, but said that he has focused only on the positive aspects of McNair’s life and that he expected a “very celebratory service” Thursday at Mount Zion.

The service also may be very crowded, as city officials estimate thousands of persons wanting to attend visitation services that begin at 3:45 as well as the 7 p.m. memorial service.

The church can accommodate 5,500 people, according to Bishop Walker.

Those planning on attending Thursday’s visitation and memorial service are urged to arrive at the church as early as possible and to be aware of likely traffic delays on both Interstate 24 and Old Hickory Boulevard northwest of downtown, Metro Police reported Wednesday.

Metro officers and Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will help monitor traffic flow and will be working to keep vehicles moving to the greatest extent possible, the department said, adding too that rush hour traffic could be affected.

Officers will be present during the visitation/viewing from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday morning at Lewis & Wright Funeral Home, 2500 Clarksville Pike. Officers will be working to ensure traffic flow as well as assist citizens safely cross the street from overflow parking lots.

Metro police officers also will ensure the safe transportation of McNair’s body from the funeral home to the church and back.

For those who did not get the opportunity to visit LP Field on Wednesday, and may not want to fight the crowds north of town, the stadium will be open again Thursday to fans who want to view a McNair tribute on the scoreboard, sign a guest book that will be given to the McNair family, as well as pay their respects.