Paul Mellon, the Virginia, his mam Bunny Mellon and also stepdaughter Eliza Lloyd in ~ preview that the Mellonís collection of English arts at the royal Academy in London top top Dec. 11, 1964. Exhibition opens up tomorrow. (Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Frank Langella to be a young gibbs in 1961 as soon as Bunny Mellon walked right into a Cape Cod, Mass., summer playhouse trying to find her daughter, Eliza. The two chatted briefly and also a few days later he was invited to a small lunch at she home. There to be eight people: Bunny and also her husband, Paul; Langella; Eliza; Noel Coward; Adele Astaire and also . . . Old friend of the master President john F. Kennedy and an initial lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

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It was, Langella said, the beginning of an particularly 53-year friendship v the woman who changed his life. The actor provided one of the numerous tributes come Mellon, who died last week in ~ 103 and also was to adjust to remainder Friday in the Mellon household plot in Upperville, Va.

An overflowing group streamed come the Trinity Episcopal Church. Four generations of she family, longtime friends, dozens that the employees who worked for her, members of the community and just a couple of famous faces: Langella, singer Bette Midler, previous senator john Warner (who was when married to Mellon’s stepdaughter, Catherine), and — perhaps the most surprising of all — previous senator man Edwards (D-N.C.), that dragged the then-100-year-old heiress into the headlines through his fail 2008 presidential campaign and his extramarital affair through Rielle Hunter.

One benefit of a lengthy life is the ability to setup every information of your funeral; because that Mellon, the was rare peek under the veil of privacy she so very closely guarded. Renowned for her attention to detail, she set the understated service at she beloved Trinity, a gift indigenous the Mellons to Upperville. Perfect in 1960, the was inspired by 12th-century French churches, and also all the stone and woodwork to be handmade by neighborhood artisans in the tradition of medieval craftsmen. Normally, no flower are presented during Lent: given Mellon’s great love that gardening, church officials do an exception and there were two modest bouquets from her greenhouse.

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“Like the flower she so love to tame, she brought me right into bloom,” Langella explained. Mellon, the said, taught a stormy Jersey kid just how to listen, dress, never ever be vulgar, respect all people, be humble, prevent hubris, compose thank-you notes, never boast, be curious and “above all, it is in loyal.” She never ever walked red carpets, never provided self-promoting interviews, never ever sought the spotlight in any type of way.