BOSTON — Hundreds turned out for the funeral Mass for Kevin White on Wednesday. The 82-year-old former Boston mayor died Friday night after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
It was a fitting farewell for the man credited with being the visionary mayor who made Boston a world-class city. The hearse bearing the casket of White moved slowly down Belvidere Street to St. Cecilia Church, with a bagpipe and drum corps from the Boston Police leading the way.
Inside the church it was standing-room only. Several hundred family and friends, former staffers, as well as the movers and shakers of the city’s political world, gathered for the funeral Mass.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino delivered the first of four eulogies, saying it is hard to imagine Boston without Kevin White.
“So much about what we love about our city began with him. With his style, his wit, his big smile,” Menino said. “He made us proud to be Bostonians. For those of us in public service, he’s shown what a difference one leader can make. He set a standard many of us are still trying to live up to.”
White’s most noted protege, Rep. Barney Frank, spoke fondly of his old boss. He said one political lesson he learned from White was to be the best person he could be — but don’t be phony. Frank shared a story of how in the late ’60s, White thwarted the federal government’s efforts to build I-95 right through the city of Boston.
“Why does Interstate 95 go in a straight line from Florida to Canton, and then hooks around, and resumes a straight line from Peabody to Canada? And that’s Interstate 95,” Frank said.
While there were plenty of light moments, celebrant Father Donald Monan, the former president of Boston College, spoke of White’s spirituality.
“For Kevin’s relationship with God, his belief in the reality of God, was not a weekend obligation he checked off on Sunday. It was a viewpoint and a perspective and the motivation, that he took into his office with him in City Hall that allowed him to seek in his constituents the same dignity and nobility he saw in himself,” Monan said.
White and his wife Kathryn had five children. The eldest, Mark, delivered the third eulogy of the day. He shared a story of how one Christmas morning the mayor presented his children with a horse — right in the middle of the city. Mark White said both his mother and the horse gave his Dad a look as if to say, “What is this guy thinking?”
“Through his infectious enthusiasm, vision and leadership, he turned these crazy ideas into reality, and he took us all along for the ride,” Mark White said. “He gave us the horse, and he gave his Boston world-class stature. He was quite simply the most interesting, imaginative, fun and loving father, and friend, a son could ever have.”
Finally, White’s closest friend, former state Treasurer Robert Crane, took to the lectern to offer thanks to his colleague and pal.
“Thank you for everything. Thank you for everything you meant to me. And to each one of us gathered here today in your honor,” Crane said. “Surely, goodness and mercy did follow you every day of your life. And you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God bless you Kevin, the song is ended, but the melody lingers on.”
Following the Mass, White was buried in a private ceremony at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury.
This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature version.