City Councilor James Kelly Dies

(AP) City Councilman James M. Kelly, a former sheet metal worker who made a name for himself fighting court-ordered school busing in the 1970s and remained a fixture in Boston politics for more than two decades, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer, his son said. He was 66.

Kelly, who served a record seven consecutive years as president of Boston's City Council in the 1990s, was diagnosed nearly four years ago with colon cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and was back at work full time a few months later.

However, the cancer spread to his lungs and brain and in November 2005 he had two tumors removed from his brain. He had been under hospice care for the past five days, according to a statement from his son, James M. Kelly Jr.

Kelly was known as a fierce advocate for his South Boston neighborhood and a union supporter. A father of three, he lived in the same apartment his parents bought in South Boston 48 years ago.

Former Mayor Raymond Flynn and Kelly knew each other their entire lives, playing football together in high school in South Boston.

"We worked together for better neighborhoods and yes, we often strongly disagreed on issues,'' Flynn said. "But he was my friend and we shared family events, weddings and graduations together. Jimmy gave it his all.''

Kelly's son said his father died at 4:19 a.m. Tuesday, surrounded by family and close friends. Details of funeral services were pending.

"As he struggled with this disease for the last few years, my father was enormously grateful for the outpouring of love and affection from his friends and neighbors,'' Kelly said.

This program aired on January 9, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.


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