1 000s mourn ex-Boston mayor Tom Menino

2014-11-03 08:39
Boston City Councillors pay their respects to the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino during a viewing ceremony at Faneuil Hall, in Boston. (AP)

Boston City Councillors pay their respects to the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino during a viewing ceremony at Faneuil Hall, in Boston. (AP)

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Boston - Thousands of people braved rain, snow and stinging winds Sunday to pay their final respects to former Boston Mayor Tom Menino — the vast majority the ordinary Bostonians he touched during his more than 20 years in office.

Mourners, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Menino's successor, Mayor Marty Walsh, arrived at Faneuil Hall where Menino was lying in state and lines formed throughout the day.

Menino, the longest-serving mayor in Boston history, was diagnosed with cancer in February 2014, shortly after leaving office. On 23 October he announced he was suspending treatment and a book tour to spend more time with family and friends.

He died on Thursday at the age of 71. His funeral is on Monday.

Great respect and admiration

Kerry, a former US senator and Boston resident, said Menino's dedication to the people of Boston shows what a difference one individual can make in the lives of so many.

"Tommy would always make you focus on what's really important," Kerry said. "Don't make it personal. Make it about the people."

Kerry said President Barack Obama had called Menino and had hoped to visit him.

"He had great respect and admiration for Tom, and of course Tom helped him, helped me, helped all of us. If he cranked his machine up, you had a pretty good upper leg," Kerry said, recalling Menino's legendary political sway in Boston. "I know the president was very sad to hear he had passed so quickly."

Patrick also praised Menino for focusing on the needs of ordinary people, a commitment that had earned Menino the nickname of "urban mechanic".

"This is a mayor who made his politics so personal, so understanding of, and so close to people," Patrick said.

Private funeral mass

US Senator Edward Markey said a big part of Menino's legacy is leaving the city in better shape than he found it.

"Today in Boston it is a completely inclusive city and Tom Menino made that his goal," Markey said.

Pierre Doriscat, one of the hundreds of thousands of Bostonians who came to know Menino, waited in the cold, wet weather before paying his respects. He recalled a time when his son — then in the fifth grade — won an award in mathematics. It was Menino who handed out the award.

"So I shook his hand," said Doriscat, who works as a bartender and lives in Menino's Hyde Park neighborhood. "He's a really nice guy. He did a great job for the city."

A private funeral Mass for family and friends is scheduled Monday at Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park. The funeral procession will depart Faneuil Hall and pass a number of local landmarks and places dear to the former mayor.

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