Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Private service held for Ken Lay in Aspen

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was among scores of people at a private memorial for company founder Kenneth Lay, who died in this mountain resort town last week as he awaited sentencing for his role in one of the United States’s biggest corporate frauds.

A lone sheriff’s deputy and uniformed private security guards were on hand, with some using umbrellas on a cloudy, rainy Sunday to shield participants from media photographers at the Aspen Chapel.

The parking lots were full for the chapel, which holds 300 people, with some mourners arriving nearly two hours early.

Inside, there was a bouquet of white lilies and a picture of Lay at the altar, flanked by sprays of sunflowers, according to Shelby Hodge, a writer for the Houston Chronicle who stepped inside and was swiftly escorted out.

Skilling’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, also attended the service.

”It was very moving,” former Texas Rangers partner Fred Malek said as he left the service. ”It brought back the philanthropic man that he was.”

Skilling, his wife and Petrocelli left without comment.

Lay (64) died on Wednesday in Aspen, where he and his wife, Linda, were vacationing. An autopsy found that severe coronary artery disease caused his death.

Under the rules of his $5-million bond, Lay was allowed to stay in south Texas or Colorado until his October sentencing. He faced decades in prison after he was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges earlier this year by a federal jury in

Houston but had planned to appeal the conviction.

The Lays had long ago sold their two homes in Aspen, one for $10-million in 2002 and one for $5,2-million three years ago. They were staying at a home owned by a

member of the Pabst brewing family.

Bonnie Behrend, a former anchor on CNBC who lives in Aspen, arrived at the church to pay her respects but was turned away by security guards.

”I know a lot of people say he’s one of the worst criminals on the planet, but he’s still a father. He’s still a grandfather,” she said. ”Regardless of what happened, what he did or didn’t do, he’s still a human being and a Christian.”

A second memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Houston. – Sapa-AP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

More top stories

Oral submissions to inquiry on local government elections start next...

The hearings will be open to the media and the public, under strict level-three regulations

Education employees queue for Covid jabs, but some may have...

People who have had Covid-19 in the past 30 days or who have had a flu shot in the past 14 days will be vaccinated at a later date

Mabuyakhulu: I took the R1-million, but not from Savoi

The former ANC provincial treasurer says the donation was used to pay for its conference in 2008

NPOs warn of a possible surge in human trafficking

In 2020, the national human-trafficking hotline reported 696 potential victims to authorities for further investigation, a 46.5% increase from the previous year

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…