NORTH SIDE (KDKA) — Hundreds of people gathered on the North Side for a memorial service honoring Dakota James on Saturday.

It started at 11 a.m. at the Calvary United Methodist Church.

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Doves were released at the end of the service, which was called a “celebration of life.”

“Just because his earthly life has ended, it does not mean the memories nor the opportunities to celebrate what this young man shared with others would be forgotten,” said Rev. Larry Homitsky. “Through music, through scripture, through words and through prayerful ways, we celebrated his life today and helped to nurture and encourage and comfort this large family.”

The 23-year-old North Side resident was missing for six weeks before his body was found in the Ohio River on March 6.

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“Pam and I have gotten the two most difficult phone calls a parent could get, one that your son is missing and the second that he isn’t coming home to you the way you had hoped,” Dakota’s father Jeff James said.

During a news conference on Mar. 7, Jeff James thanked the people of Pittsburgh for their support, and the James family extended their thanks to other Pittsburgh organizations and businesses for their help during the search.

“It is one of the things that they will always have – that Pittsburgh has been their friend,” Rev. Homitsky said.

A funeral for James will be held next week in Maryland.

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