EDWARD “Ned” Kelly has been dead a long, long time, but for many, his life is only just out of reach.
Some living descendants carried flowers at the funeral in 1946 of Kelly’s brother James, known as Jim. Others can readily recall Kelly’s sister, Grace.
Kelly’s great grand niece Joanna Griffiths said her family had “very strong memories”.
“It’s actually very painful for some and to achieve this burial in consecrated ground — as his wishes were — is very good,” she said.
“I don’t know how else you can describe that.
“It’s been a very difficult process, a very long process — a fight.”
Kelly is a heroic figure to some and a despised cop killer to others for the murder of three police at Stringybark Creek.
Now Ned’s clan has the chance to treat him as a love family member after years of what some see as discrimination and intrusive celebrity.
Grandson of Grace Kelly, Paul Griffiths, said every family wanted to bury their own in a “dignified, private and respectful manner”.
Wangaratta solicitor John Suta, who represents many descendants, said it was no surprise Kelly was receiving a full requiem mass tomorrow.
“Right up to the end, Ned never abandoned his Catholicism,” he said.
Mr Suta said the service, to be conducted by Monsignor John White, would be the same as any other funeral.
He said many people forgot that Ned’s death was a significant memory for his family.
“Ned’s brother Jim died in 1946 — not so long ago,” he said.
“The older family members remember James very, very well.
“Ned was very much loved as a member of this family.
Mr Suta last year wrote to a Melbourne law firm representing a developer who wanted to keep Kelly’s bones for a museum at the old Pentridge Jail site.
Former prison chaplain Professor Peter Norden, has prepared eulogy notes. He said he hoped the service and burial on Sunday would “bring peace and healing”.
“I’m pleased it’s happening, and I believe he didn’t get a decent trial,” Professor Norden said.
“At least he can get a decent burial.”
Ms Griffiths said it was hard for many to realise Kelly’s death was “not that far back”.
“There’s still people alive with strong connections and memories of Jim,” she said.
“They forget there’ was a person in the iron mask who had a family.”