Before he died, physics professor Stephen Hawking was best known for providing the world with a great deal of food for thought. But during his funeral on Saturday, the scientific legend went a bit further by making good on his promise to provide food for the homeless.
A stipulation in the last will and testament of Hawking, who died March 14 at the age of 77 from motor neurone disease, was that he would pay for a three-course meal for up to 50 homeless people. Hawking's daughter Lucy made sure the request was honored when she contacted a local chapter of FoodCycle, a national charity, to organize the event at Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge. While the amount of the donation wasn't known, one FoodCycyle spokesperson claimed that the money was more than enough to cover the cost of the meals.
Those who took advantage of Hawking's philanthropic request were told by organizers that the food was a "gift from Stephen." In response during the meal, the grateful recipients of his gift raised their glasses to honorably toast him.
FoodCycle went all out for the occasion, even decorating the tables with flowers. The food, which included everything from a casserole to dessert plus after dinner sweets, was held as part of Easter weekend celebrations, even though Hawking was an atheist. That said, Hawking was never known to display any disdain for those who were religious, including several of his scientific colleagues.
Many of those colleagues were among the 500 guests invited to Hawking's funeral at the University Church of St Mary the Great in Cambridge. Leading the proceedings was actor Eddlie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist in the 2014 movie The Theory of Everything. Redmayne even read a passage from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 to honor the scientist.
The poignant irony of the occasion was that although Hawking was best known for demystifying gigantic phenomena surrounding black holes in space and providing a big-picture look at the universe in best-sellers A Brief History of Time and A Grand Design, perhaps his own theory of everything included the little things in life that usually escapes mainstream attention.
Such as feeding the homeless.