Associated Press – February 15, 1984
DENTON, Tex. – Many of the luminaries of the professional wrestling world paid their final respects to David Von Erich, 25, a ring comrade who died of a stomach ailment last week while on a wrestling tour of Japan.
An estimated 3,500 mourners came to the First Baptist Church of Denton. Many were young women – whose screams for the wrestler at his matches had been likened to the devotion other girls once bestowed upon the Beatles during the 1960s.
Ric Flair, an archrival of the wrestling Von Erich family, was subdued at the services, despite the fact that he had frequently shouted insults at David and other of the Von Erichs before, during and after wrestling battles in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“the fact that we were enemies in the ring didn’t have anything to do with the tremendous amount of respect I had for him. He had unlimited guts,” said Flair, whose forehead is crisscrossed with scars.
Von Erich’s real name was David Adkisson. He was a high school football and basketball star at nearby Lake Dallas before joining brothers Kevin, Kerry and Michael in prolonging the family wrestling name begun three decades earlier by their father, who wrestled under the name of Fritz Von Erich.
On either side of the closed casket were portraits of Von Erich – one of him in wrestling gear with his Texas heavyweight championship belt draped over his shoulder, the other of him in a tan leather jacket and white cowboy hat.
One floral arrangement was in the shape of Texas. Another was in the shape of cowboy boots with a cross on top.
Among other professional wrestlers who attended the funeral were Gene Kiniski, Dory and Terry Funk, Verne Gagne, Duke Keomuka, Brian Adias, Iceman King Parsons, Chris (The Gentleman) Adams, the Super Ds and Jose Lothario.
Absent were television camera crews. Plans to film the services for later telecast were dropped when Von Erich’s father banned cameras from the church. He had considered having a closed funeral, but changed his mind.
About 1,500 fans descended upon Grove Hill Memorial Park in East Dallas for a graveside service that followed the funeral. Many of them arrived as early as 8 a.m. Despite exhortations from police, the crowd refused to disperse after the service. They milled around the casket as it was lowered into the ground.
“Fritz said the crowd is what made them, and he wanted the crowd to be a part of this. It’s a lot harder on the family this way, but the crowd loved the boys,” said Sondra Adkisson, David Von Erich’s cousin.
The Rev. Gene McCombs, a family friend from Memphis, Tenn., officiated at the funeral.