He also was remembered for his generosity and sense of humor.
"Dear God, get heaven ready, because Mr. Enthusiasm is coming," said Larry Borcherding, of Overland Park, who first met Tiller a half-century ago when both were students at the University of Kansas. "Heaven will never be the same. It will be a better, better place with George in it."
The family asked for privacy as they prepared to say their goodbyes. The family issued the following statement:
Family, friends and colleagues have come together to celebrate the life of a devoted humanitarian and loving father, grandfather, and husband, George R. Tiller, MD. People are here today from across the country to celebrate and honor the life of a man who wholeheartedly dedicated his life to kindness, courtesy, justice, love and respect.
Wichita police and U.S. Marshals provided security. Dozens of motorcycle riders from the American Legion were also on hand. Tiller served in the Navy.
A large portrait of Tiller hung at the front of the church and a wreath of flowers bore the words "TRUST WOMEN."
Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old abortion opponent, was arrested a few hours after the shooting just outside Kansas City. He was charged two days later with the attack at the church, where he had occasionally attended services two months earlier.
About 30 abortion rights supporters lined a sidewalk outside the church Sunday, each holding a white carnation and one with a sign declaring Tiller, his family and his staff as "civil rights heroes." Many wore green or blue T-shirts commemorating Tiller's life, with the National Organization for Women's logo.
Most anti-abortion groups avoided the funeral, having denounced Tiller's shooting. But 17 demonstrators showed up from Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing soldiers' funerals to present its message that their deaths are God's punishment for Americans' tolerance of homosexuality.
Police kept them about 500 feet away from the church, mostly out of sight of people arriving for the funeral, although their shouts and singing could be heard from blocks away.
The Westboro Baptist demonstration drew about a dozen counter-demonstrators, and the two groups shouted insults at each other before the service and tried to drown each other out with singing.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.