GREENVILLE - U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., a tireless servant and champion for Eastern North Carolina was laid to rest Thursday after hundreds of people paid their respect by attending his mass at St. Peter Catholic Church.

Dignitaries that included local and state elected officials the governor, a congressional delegation from Washington, D.C., friends, acquaintances, admires and family filled St. Peter Catholic Church to say goodbye.

Jones, who had represented the 3rd Congressional District of North Carolina since 1995 and served in the state House of Representatives before that, died Feb. 10, his birthday, at the age of 76.

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said Jones was a man of deep faith who loved the people of Eastern North Carolina.

"He didn't tow a line," Cooper said. "He always did what was right."

Cooper said he and Jones didn't always agree. But they did agree on "the value of public service" and the belief you should always be rational.

Cooper said he was grateful for Jones' friendship and "on behalf of the people" of North Carolina he was grateful for his service.

Like all of the dignitaries who spoke, Cooper said he knew that Jones had a strong love for his family and he was very proud of his daughter Ashley.

Cooper was one of six people to eulogize Jones. The other speakers were Connie Gruber and her daughter Brooke, who thanked Jones for his many years fighting to get her husband and another Osprey helicopter pilot cleared of an fatal crash; Ken Haigler, a good friend of Jones who saw him recently and he read him excerpts from a book about Jones that will be coming out soon.

Also Joshua Bowlen, a long-time member on Jones' staff, and friends J.Y. Monk and Rufus Edmisten spoke about Jones' unrelenting integrity and strong faith in the Lord.

Jones entered politics for the first time at age 40, after careers as a manager with his family's office supply business, as a lighting company executive and insurance benefits company executive, as well as a stint as a wine broker, according to the Roll Call.

He is survived by his wife Joe Anne and his daughter Ashley.