November 3, 2008

Family, Friends Mourn at Hudson Memorial Service

Hundreds of mourners lined the street in front of Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago this afternoon to mourn the loss of Jennifer Hudson's slain mother, brother and nephew.

While Hudson herself did not attend the public memorial—a private, invite-only service is scheduled to take place Monday morning—she was clearly on the minds of those who did come to pay their respects.

"She has been doing good," Demitrias Jackson, a cousin of the Oscar winner who attended the community memorial, told E! News. "She's very strong and she's holding the family together."

In order to do so, Jackson said, Hudson will temporarily be putting her career on the back burner.

"She is going to take a break from acting," Jackson said. "She'll be taking time for herself and to be with her family."

As it is, relatives weren't the only ones who came out for the memorial held on the city's South Side. Friends, neighbors and well-wishers alike were out in full force to pay their respects to the Hudson family.

"I came here because I had a mother and a son die, so I have been hit by a double tragedy as well," local resident Alice Ghant said. "For Jennifer to have all that success and then have this happen, makes me cry."

Ghant wanted to show her support for the whole Hudson family and offered them advice for their trying times: "Keep your head up and it will get better with prayer, faith and time."

Joseph Murphy, who says he worked as a security guard for the onetime American Idol contestant back in 2006, said he too is praying for the Hudsons.

"The reports of Jennifer being the strength of the family are definitely true," Murphy said. "I contacted her through MySpace to tell her I'm always praying for her."

Chicago residents were lined up an hour before the doors for the memorial opened at 4 p.m., after a private service for relatives had concluded. The church was simply decorated with white flowers and photos of the slain family members.

During the service, several churchgoers spoke, sang and offered various recollections of 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, 29-year-old Jason Hudson and 7-year-old Julian King. Donerson and Hudson were found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in their Englewood home on Oct. 24; King was found in an SUV on Oct. 27 and declared dead of the same cause.

Outside the church, mourners left flowers, cards and other offerings, with one guest leaving a teddy bear, ostensibly in memory of Julian.

The community memorial lasted several hours, with the last of the mourners leaving the church around 6 p.m.

As for Hudson, she remains holed up with her sister Julia, Julian's mother, and various other family members at the Trump International Hotel & Tower. The family is expected to attend a private memorial service at Chicago's Apostolic Church of God at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the newly formed Hudson-King Domestic Violence Protection Fund.

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