DETROIT -- The apples didn't fall far from the tree when it came to Gordie and Colleen Howe's children.
Their four children, Mark, Marty, Murray and Cathy and their families arrived at Joe Louis Arena early Tuesday morning for the public visitation for their father, who passed away early Friday morning at the age of 88.
Howe's younger sister, Helen Cummine, came all the way from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
"I wouldn't have missed this for anything," Cummine said.
Gordie Howe was a famous hockey player who enjoyed interacting with his fans, whether at charity events, at hockey rinks or just out and about.
Those fans have been busy calling sports radio stations and leaving lengthy comments on newspaper and sports websites, telling stories of meeting Howe and how kind and generous with his time he was.
Howe's grandson Travis, Mark's son, said his grandfather was at his happiest when he was with people.
So Howe's family members were happy to greet each and every fan who came to pay their respects Tuesday, even though that meant a day that lingered past the 12-hour mark.
Murray Howe, the chairman of Toledo Hospital's radiology department, said the turnout, estimated at more than 15,000 fans, was even more than he expected.
"It's mind-blowing," Murray Howe said. "I am just so humbled by the incredible show of love and support. It's unfathomable and I know that my dad is watching from above and saying, 'Wow, I didn't know I was that loved.' It's just really amazing to see.
"I guess it doesn't surprise me just thinking of who the fans are in Detroit and just how much they love hockey and love my dad. I guess I'm not so surprised because I just know how much they love him. But it's wonderful to see. It's incredible to see."
Growing up, Murray Howe said he had a front-row seat watching his father's love affair with Red Wings fans.
"My whole life has been a Cinderella story of being able to watch my dad make people's day," Murray Howe said. "It's just been incredible."
Gordie Howe's funeral, which will be streamed live on DetroitRedWings.com, will take place at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit on Wednesday.