WASHINGTON — Family, friends and fans alike gathered Wednesday afternoon at First Baptist Church of Glenarden’s worship center in Upper Marlboro, Md. for the funeral service of longtime Redskins superfan Zema Williams, familiarly known as Chief Zee.
Williams died last week at the age of 75, wrenching the hearts of Redskins fans who had grown up knowing only games attended by Chief Zee, the team’s most prominent fan — recognized by the burgundy and gold headdress he wore to every game — since the late 1970s.
Upon learning of his death, fans gathered for a candlelight vigil outside of Redskins Park.
And when many more fans — decked out in Redskins garb — flocked to Upper Marlboro for Wednesday’s service, some of them, befitting of the legend they were there to honor, arrived early to tailgate.
Mark Moseley and Daryl Grant were among those to speak at Williams’ funeral. Santana Moss, who last week retold the story of the first time he met Williams, in the back of the end zone in Dallas after catching the go-ahead touchdown — on a 70-yard pass from Mark Brunell — to cap off the Monday Night Miracle, sent flowers. The accompanying photo was of Moss hugging Williams in the back of that end zone in Dallas.
The funeral arrangements couldn’t be made without help. Williams, who was to be evicted from his home in April if not for the generosity of fans donating thousands to a GoFundMe page (the donation goal for which they surpassed by more than $8,000) didn’t leave much money behind.
On Tuesday, word had spread of an anonymous donor stepping forward to cover funeral costs. Those costs, Carol Maloney of NBC4 reports, were covered by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
Williams’ funeral service, according to Redskins.com, concluded with a vibrant rendition of “Hail to the Redskins.”