Thousands pay final respects to Pat Conroy at Beaufort visitation

VIDEO: Thousands pay final respects to Pat Conroy at Beaufort visitation
Published: Mar. 8, 2016 at 3:29 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2016 at 8:40 PM EST
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Lowcountry native and New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy died Friday at the age of 70, just weeks earlier he announced he was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

To many at his visitation on Monday, he was more than a famous author.

"I don't think he realized he was as famous as he was," said Etta Mann, who's known Pat Conroy for almost 40 years.

"The friendly touch and the smile made him who he was," said Ervena Faulkner, another longtime friend of Conroy's.

To some, Conroy was a dear friend. 
To many worldwide, he's a legend who will be remembered by his award winning novels.

According to Mann and Faulkner, all of Conroy's friends have their favorite Conroy book.

"I like 'The Cookbook,'" said Faulkner.

"My favorite book is, 'The Water is Wide," said Mann.

Some of the people who inspired many of his books were in attendance at his visitation.  
"He taught us things, that once we got off the Island we knew what he was talking about," said Sallie Ann Robinson.

Robinson was one of Conroy's first students on Daufuskie Island.
Conroy's book "The Water is Wide" is based on his experiences teaching on Daufuskie Island.

"He encouraged me that there's a bigger world out there and all you have to do is grab it," said Robinson.

He had a big impact on many people, at all stages of his life.

"We were roommates," said Michael Devito. "We met our freshman year. We were just kids."

Devito and Bo Marks lived with Pat Conroy as knobs at the Citadel.

"We were brothers," said Marks.

Even then, as teens, they said he held himself and others to a high standard.

"Pat hated cruelty," said Marks. "Once you know Pat, you never forget him. He's with you always."

"If you met him 30 years ago, or you met him today, he's the same guy," said Devito.

To some, he was a teacher.

"He made learning fun," said Robinson.

To others, he was a dear friend.

"He had a wonderful sense of humor," said Mann.

To many, his legacy will live on for many years.

"You'll be with me always," said Marks. "You'll never leave my thoughts, my prayers and my love."

There will be a funeral Mass for Conroy Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Catholic Church, on Lady's Island and private burial following that service.

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