NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than three weeks since the horrific plane crash before Christmas that killed a family of four and two weeks since their funeral in North Carolina, New Yorkers gathered to say goodbye on Thursday.

The memorial service drew roughly 800 mourners to St. Thomas Church.

“There was no way we could not do something here. There’s too many people that need to grieve, need to mourn need to celebrate this family,” said co-worker Leanne Pantoliano.

Jeffrey Buckalew was piloting one of his personal planes, ferrying his family and a business partner down to North Carolina just before Christmas.

That five died is horror enough. That four came from the same loving family cuts to the bone.

“It’s been the hardest thing I think I’ve ever experienced. It’s just been an epic tragedy,” said family friend Paul Bitler.

“The hardest thing for me is that the plane went down three miles from my house,” said family friend Andrew Sanford.

The family’s New York friends want everyone to know just how grounded and down-to-earth these people really were. Despite his tremendous success and wealth, Jeff Buckalew was described as affectionate, unpretentious, and just a regular guy.

“The janitor was crying because he and Jeff were friends. The doormen in the building are on their way here because they were so touched by that family,” said Pantoliano.

“The Buckalew family did more in 45 years they were together than most of us will do in a lifetime,” said family friend Kathryn Tyree. “When we were at the funeral in Greensboro the priest encouraged us never to wait to love and that is how the Buckalew family lived their life.”

The ashes of Jeffrey, Corinne, Jackson and Merriweather Buckalew are buried in a North Carolina cemetery next to those of a third child who died at birth. Their memories are quite alive in our city, one of the places they called home.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, although it appears icing on the wings may have been a factor.

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