'Always a Raider': Hometown readies for a final farewell

The local funeral and calling hours will be open to the public.
WARREN -- Korey Stringer never forgot his roots. Now it's his hometown's turn to remember him.
Public calling hours will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday at one of Stringer's favorite places -- the field house at Warren G. Harding High School.
Stringer's funeral, which also is open to the public, will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at First Assembly of God on Parkman Road.
"He was always a Raider," said Mitzi Williamson, Stringer's godmother. "More than anything he loved Harding High School and loved being a Raider."
Williamson said Stringer's parents, Cathy and Joseph, cried when they were told calling hours were going to be at the field house.
"They said that is where Korey would have wanted to be," Williamson added.
Stringer was a standout at Harding and Ohio State University.
The 27-year-old NFL Pro Bowl lineman with the Minnesota Vikings died early Wednesday from complications of heatstroke. He had become ill during the Vikings training camp.
The viewing and funeral were to be at a local funeral home, but officials said plans changed because of security reasons and the number of people expected to attend.
League representatives: Fred Harris, the city's safety-service director, said he expects every team in the National Football League to be represented at services, along with someone from an NFL mothers organization.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue also is expected in town.
Harris has met with police and said security will be provided at both services.
Cameras are forbidden inside the field house and church, officials said.
Public is welcome: Several of Stringer's family members gathered in Harris' office Friday, saying the public is welcome to attend services but expected to respect the family's privacy.
"There was a private service in Minnesota today [Friday], but the public is welcome to attend these services," said Steve Arnold, one of Stringer's close friends.
Tim "Bear" Brown, a city patrol officer and close friend of the Stringer family, said he remembers when he escorted Stringer and the Harding team to the state championship in 1990.
"It was an honor escorting Korey at that time and it will be an honor escorting him now to what I believe is the grand championship because he is with God," Brown said.
Remembrances: The family described Stringer as a gentle giant who was driven, yet humble.
The side of him they knew best was fun and silly and he genuinely enjoyed helping others, they said.
"We're very proud his time on this earth was spent very well," said Stringer's aunt Lynda Golden-Martin.
Kevin Burns, director of communications at Immanuel St. Joseph's-Mayo Health System hospital in Mankato, Minn., where Stringer died, said Friday afternoon that an autopsy was performed Wednesday but that Minnesota law does not consider results public information.
Stringer collapsed on the practice field in Mankato on Tuesday morning during training camp. Temperatures were in the low 90s and humidity pushed the heat index as high as 110 degrees.
He also reportedly fell ill Monday during the opening day of training camp.
Coaches said the tackle showed no warning signs Tuesday and they never considered ordering the 6-foot-4, 335-pounder to take a break.
He leaves behind his wife, Kelci, and 3-year-old son Kodie.
davis@vindy.com; sinkovich@vindy.com

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