Elizabeth Edwards' Funeral To Take Place Amid Possible Westboro - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Elizabeth Edwards' Funeral To Take Place Amid Possible Westboro Baptist Protests

(CNN) -- As mourners gather to commemorate the life of Elizabeth Edwards on Saturday afternoon, picketers from a Kansas-based church -- along with counter-protesters -- could change the mood outside the funeral.

Edwards, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 61.

Representatives for the Edwards family confirmed that the service will be held at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, where the Edwards family worshiped. The funeral will be open to the public.

A representative for Brown-Wynne Funeral Homes said the funeral will take place at 1 p.m.

Edwards will then be buried at Raleigh's Historic Oakwood Cemetery, according to office manager Sharon Freed. Earlier this week, Freed told CNN about the proximity of the burial to Edwards' son Wade, who was buried at the cemetery after dying in a 1996 car crash.

"He is already interred there in a space. And she will be interred there beside him," Freed said.

But the funeral could be marked by picketers from Westboro Baptist Church.

According to a press release from the church, members of the Kansas-based congregation are planning to rally against Edwards for issues relating to her personal life deemed offensive by the church.

The church is known for its extremist opposition against homosexuals, Jews and other groups. Westboro members often hold protests at funerals for fallen U.S. service members, saying the war's dead are God's punishment for the country tolerating gays and lesbians.

The father of a U.S. Marine has sued the church, alleging invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The case, Snyder v. Phelps, has reached the Supreme Court and tests the privacy rights of grieving families with the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message.

But some are organizing a counter-protest to Westboro Baptist's efforts at Edwards' funeral.

Susan Burcham and Ben Requena did not know Edwards, but said they felt compelled to stand up against the church's protest.

"When I heard that these people were coming ... I felt like I needed to say something to the bully in our front yard," Burcham told Anderson Cooper on CNN's "AC360." She said she helped organize the counter-protest on Facebook.

Requena said he would consider his efforts successful if Sunday morning's headlines read, "Elizabeth Edwards quietly laid to rest."

"This isn't about us," Requena said on the program. "It's not about the thousands of people from the local community and abroad that are going to come over and help protest and help spread the love. It's certainly not about the Westboro group. This is about human decency and common courtesy."

Edwards, who had four children and had worked as a bankruptcy lawyer in Raleigh, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her husband lost his bid for vice president in November 2004.

In 2006, after her initial cancer diagnosis, she wrote "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers," which chronicled the aftermath of her son's death and her battle with the disease.

In 2008, months after withdrawing from the presidential race, John Edwards admitted that tabloid claims about an extramarital affair with former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter were true. Eventually, he also admitted to fathering a child with Hunter -- an allegation he initially vociferously denied even after conceding the affair.

John Edwards said the affair happened in 2006 while his wife's cancer was in remission. He claimed he informed his wife at the time and asked for her forgiveness.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press after her husband admitted to his affair, Elizabeth Edwards said the incident helped her focus on resuming her role as an advocate for the poor and for health care reform. She also said it pushed her to refocus on her role as a mother.

In a September interview on "The Nate Berkus Show," Edwards was asked what she sees when she looks at her estranged husband, John Edwards.

"I see the father of my children, and that's very important to me," she said. "Particularly since I have a terminal disease, this is the person who at some point will take over the primary parenting, and it's important to me that he heal, if he needs to."

A memorial website for Edwards states, "In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wade Edwards Foundation, which benefits the Wade Edwards Learning Lab." According to the site, the learning lab is a computer and learning center in Raleigh that provides services free of charge.

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