RYE, N.Y. -- More than 100 of Katherine Chappell's closest friends and family gathered in Rye on Saturday for a private memorial service.
Chappell, 29, an Emmy-award winning visual effects editor, has attracted international media attention ever since she was mauled to death on Monday at a lion park in South Africa.
Hundreds more friends and associates filed into Graham Funeral Home during calling hours on Friday night and Saturday morning.
State Sen. George Latimer of Rye was among the many mourners standing in line for more than an hour to say goodbye.
"Katie was a childhood friend of my daughter, Meagan,'' Latimer said. "They went to elementary school together; they sang at the Resurrection Children's Choir Mass back in the 1990s.
"I remember taking the girls to see a Disney movie back in those days. Who could tell what would happen in days yet to come?" Latimer said. "Katie grew up to be a talented, accomplished young woman. This was a terrible loss -- so much potential unfulfilled. We're all grieving tonight in this small town."
Chappell, a Rye native, was about to start a volunteer mission at a wildlife preserve for elephants and rhinoceroses when she was attacked during a safari near Johannesburg. She was filming wild animals and had rolled her window down to take a photo shortly before a lioness lunged and killed her.
Chappell had hoped to produce a film about the dangers poachers pose to wildlife. She was living in Vancouver, Canada, while working for a special effects company that won an Emmy award for HBO's hit television series "Game of Thrones," and she was involved in a soon-to-be-released film "Pan," about Peter Pan. She also worked on "The Children," which won an Emmy for outstanding special and visual effects.
She was a graduate of School of the Holy Child in Harrison and Hofstra University, where she got her undergraduate degree in film studies and production.
Chappell is survived by her parents, Mary and Jonathan Chappell of Rye; her brother, Ryan; two sisters, Lauren Chapell and Jen Ringwald; her brother-in-law, Steve Ringwald; and her boyfriend, Grayson Hoare.
"Mary and Jon are lovely people; like anyone else might be, they're overwhelmed by national press attention," Latimer added. "And, of course, grief that I can't imagine."
The line between news and privacy was palpable outside the funeral home before Saturday's memorial service as several passersby told a group of journalists and TV camera crews to go home.
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