CHICAGO – A church on the city's South Side was readied Monday for a private funeral service for the slain mother, brother and nephew of singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, a day after a public memorial that drew hundreds of friends, family and fans.
Nephew Julian King, 7, was a smart boy who loved jokes, and Jennifer Hudson's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Hudson Donerson, was excited by the coming election, mourners said Sunday in the memorial at Pleasant Gift Memorial Baptist Church.
That public gathering followed a private ceremony for friends and family. Jennifer Hudson did not attend either service.
Monday's private funeral for Donerson, Julian King and Jennifer Hudson's brother, 29-year-old Jason Hudson, was being held at Apostolic Church of God.
The three were found shot to death late last month, the adults in Donerson's home and Julian in a vehicle found several miles away.
No one has been charged in the shootings, although authorities call Julia Hudson's estranged husband, 27-year-old William Balfour, a "person of interest."
On Sunday, Julian's second-grade teacher read aloud from journals written by his classmates — including one who lamented that he didn't live long enough to become president.
With three of Julian's classmates standing by her side, Carmen Williams of Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy remembered him as a smart boy who liked to tell knock-knock jokes.
"When Julian raised his hand, he had that enthusiastic light in his eyes, and he always — always — had the right answer," Williams said.
Shari Sweat, a cousin of Donerson, called her by her nickname, "Doll," as she recounted how important Tuesday's election was to her.
"Doll refused to be left out of this historical moment in this nation, and before she left these shores, she cast her vote," Sweat said.
Jason Hudson's cousin, the Rev. Quentin Washington, reminded mourners that he would have turned 30 on Feb. 17. Washington said Hudson recently joked about getting older, saying "his Afro was getting thin."
Sean Howard, executive assistant to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, said he was with the Hudson family when they went to the medical examiner's office last week to identify Julian's body.
"When Jennifer and her family walked in, Jennifer was a pillar in that room," Howard said. "You have a true leader in your family in Jennifer."
Associated Press writer Sophia Tareen contributed to this report.