updated 12/23/2007 11:52:12 PM ET 2007-12-24T04:52:12

As NASA astronaut Daniel Tani orbited Earth, hundreds of mourners filled a suburban Chicago church Sunday to remember his 90-year-old mother as someone who endured hardship to raise five children and worked until age 70.

Rose Tani died Dec. 19 when her car was struck by a train. Daniel Tani, 46, who is aboard the international space station, could not travel back for the service at his mother's church and sent a videotaped message.

The video was played at First Church of Lombard, west of Chicago. Reporters were not allowed to view the message.

Rose Tani was remembered as a woman who braved a U.S. World War II internment camp, raised her children after her husband's death and worked in a school cafeteria until she was 70.

Daniel Tani "has lost the person who has been his inspiration for most of his life," said Rev. Rob Hatfield, according to a WLS-TV report posted on its Web site.

Police said Rose Tani stopped behind a school bus at a railroad crossing and then drove around the vehicle, bypassing the lowered crossing gate. A train struck the passenger side of her vehicle and pushed it down the tracks before stopping.

NASA has said Daniel Tani is believed to be the first American astronaut to lose a close family member while in space.

A private funeral service is planned for when he returns from space early next year.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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