BOSTON — A long line of mourners moved through Boston’s Parkman House Tuesday for the wake of former Mayor Kevin White.
“He made a huge difference in Boston, and he had a vision for the future,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “Look at Faneuil Hall, look at other areas of the city where he developed it. He really set the blueprint for all of us.”
Added former City Councilor Maura Hennigan, “He really always had Boston in his heart, in his soul, and if you look at the skyline across the city today, you see very much his fingerprints on it.”
“He brought the city through the busing crisis and improved so much of the downtown area,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley. “I was telling someone recently that when the mayor came out to the neighborhoods back then, it was almost like seeing the president.”
Alongside local and state officials, residents and former city workers stopped by to pay their respects.
“Great man, did a great job with the city,” said Bill Howard, of Charlestown, who worked for Mayor White from 1975 to 1984. “Just special, he’s a real special man. And I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
Susan Dempsey was a secretary in the mayor’s office starting in 1975.
“[He was] always running with a suit jacket over his shoulder,” she recalled Tuesday. “He always looked like a million bucks, you know?”
Longtime Boston journalist Christopher Lydon reflected on the importance of the job when White held it.
“At the core of it was this idea that the mayor’s office in Boston was the best job in the world,” Lydon said. “Much more interesting, more persuasive, a bigger stage than the governor’s office, and maybe, maybe even more than that.”
White’s casket rested in the second floor parlor, overlooking Boston Common. The Parkman House is the stately city-owned mansion on Beacon Hill where the former mayor was fond of receiving guests and conducting other affairs of the city.
When the wake began, at 2 p.m., a line extended down the street. White’s son, Mark White, was at the Parkman House entrance, greeting mourners. He told WBUR’s David Boeri that he wanted to meet everyone who knew his father, and hear every little story.
On Wednesday, a funeral procession will begin at the Parkman House and wind its way through several downtown streets, pausing at the statue of White outside Faneuil Hall.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Cecilia’s church in the Back Bay.
White died Friday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 82. He served four terms as mayor from 1968 to 1984.
With additional reporting by The Associated Press