HUDSON, Mass. — More than 600 people attended Friday’s funeral Mass for former Gov. Paul Cellucci, who died Saturday at the age of 65.
The service was packed with ex-governors, U.S. senators and dozens of local politicians, but the gathering was described as a celebration of Cellucci’s private life.
A bagpiper led the motorcade with Cellucci’s body to his funeral at St. Michael’s Parish in his hometown of Hudson. It was a church where Cellucci attended services, taught religious education, and went to grammar school.
Father Ronald Calhoun said Cellucci’s legacy endures not only as a public servant, but also as a family man who tried to make the world a better place.
Jane Swift was lieutenant governor under Cellucci from 1998 until 2001. Swift then became acting governor when Cellucci was appointed U.S. ambassador to Canada. She recalled Cellucci’s role in her life.
“I was very blessed to have former Gov. Cellucci’s belief in me,” Swift said. “It changed my life. But there are dozens of stories like that in the church today. He had an amazing impact on people.”
Cellucci’s daughters, Kate and Anne, delivered an emotional eulogy describing their parents’ marriage as one “for the storybooks.” They also recalled their father’s sense of humor, even when dealing with his ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But they focused on Cellucci’s devotion to his family, especially his four grandchildren; one granddaughter was born just a week ago.
Former House Speaker Thomas Finneran worked with Cellucci for much of his career at the State House as Cellucci moved from state representative to state senator to lieutenant governor and then to governor. Finneran was visibly moved by the eulogy.
“I thought it was a wonderful service,” he said. “It’s very difficult for your children, in this case his daughters, to talk about their dad without getting as emotional as this Irishman is about to get. In the last couple days the tributes at the State House, the memories, the fondness, the affection. It’s not many people who spend a lot of time in politics who then leave and are looked upon affectionately.”
Among the politicians attending Friday were Gov. Deval Patrick, former Govs. William Weld and Mitt Romney and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mo Cowan.
This post was updated with the All Things Considered version.