BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Family, friends, and community members gathered to celebrate the life of Celestine Chaney for her funeral services held in Buffalo.
Chaney was one of ten victims shot to death at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue on May 14.
Those who gathered reflected on her life as a mother, sister, grandmother, and friend, and called her queen.
“When you saw her, you saw love. When you saw her, you saw resilience,” Minister Ahmad Randall, communications director, Elim Christian Fellowship.
The 65-year-old woman’s life and the life of her family were crushed by this tragedy.
Family, friends, and members of the community gathered at the church in Buffalo Tuesday to celebrate her life.
She was affectionately known as “Stiny”. Celestine had just celebrated her 65th birthday the week before she was murdered at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.
“It was showing that people came to say their farewell to a woman who was worthy of the highest of honors — as our bishop said in his statement that she is a woman worthy of the highest of honors”, Minister Randall reflected.
Randall spoke with reporters on behalf of the grieving family.
Her casket was covered in church with a religious purple cloth. A family member places his hand on the casket.
Celestine was remembered as a phenomenal woman with a radiant smile. She was a mother, sister, partner, grandmother, and great-grandmother of nine.
Her son Wayne Jones said his mother taught him how to survive, calling her his beautiful, single mother.
“One ride we can’t go on with her,” stated Jones.
Her grandson, Wayne Jones, Jr. says he wishes he could have one more phone call with his grandmother.
Granddaughter Kayla Jones cried when she spoke about coming home from out of town and seeing her grandmother a week before her death.
But she made mourners laugh as she talked about how her grandmother ordered the “most expensive” item, surf & turf on the menu, then sadly reflected on how it was their last dinner together.
“I’m gonna miss my grandma,” Jones declared.
Another grandchild, Charon Reed, also spoke about her grandmother saying she didn’t deserve what happened to her.
“But deserves to be with the Lord,” Reed remarked.
A woman who survived three aneurysms and breast cancer.
Some wore pink — her favorite color in her honor.
Reverend Ernestine Richardson spoke about Celestine’s time with an organization called the Ester Project, a women’s ministry that empowers women to have enriching relationships.
Rev. Richardson reflected on how she “bounced back” from all her health challenges.
The senior pastor of the church, The Most Reverend Anthony Bronner, called her a “hero” who also confronted life's battle heroically.
And when speaking of the May 14 shooting that claimed her life, the reverend made a powerful statement saying the killer may have thought he had “the final word”, but that “God has the final word.”
“Even this tragedy, even this horrific event, that has happened, this can even work out to some level of good, though we know that this was not the doing of a God that we know,” replied Minister Randall.
The following the church wake and funeral, Celestine was taken to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo — her final resting place.