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Boston Remembers Kevin White

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Boston-area residents are remembering Kevin White as a mayor who had his ups and downs, but did a great deal of good — including bringing new development and energy to Boston. The 82-year-old White, who served as mayor from 1968 to 1984, died at his Beacon Hill home Friday night. Many former constituents are stopping by the statue of White outside Faneuil Hall to pay tribute to him.

Flowers lay at the foot of Kevin White's statue near Faneuil Hall in Boston. (Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR)
Flowers lay at the foot of Kevin White's statue near Faneuil Hall in Boston. (Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR)

Tom Reilly drives a Boston cab. He said he had to stop that cab when he saw flowers at the statue and realized White had died.

"There was a lot of good times with him, you know? He did a lot with the building up of the city," Reilly said.

Reilly grew up in Charlestown. He was a student at Charlestown High when a judge ordered schools desegregated in 1974 and racial tensions exploded in the city. He thinks Mayor White did as well as he could under very tough circumstances.

"It was bad," Reilly said. "I still have people today that still haven't gotten over that, the busing, and being sent from high school to another town where they didn't know nobody. And so yah, he did take a lot of flack."

Jim Ahern grew up in Hyde Park and remembers the challenge White faced in trying to keep the peace.

"It must have been a very stressful time," Ahern said. "It really did rip open the city. He was sitting on a powder keg every day. I know. My father was a cop. He got calls all the time. I don't know what else [White] could have done."

Ahern, who was 23 when White left office, said he thinks the mayor probably stayed on a little too long, with an ethics investigation clouding his administration. But Ahern most remembers the mayor for revitalizing Boston with developments like the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

"He brought a new energy and brought the city in," Ahern said. "That's the city that we're enjoying today. So he had a lot to do with it. I just felt I needed to come down and say a quick hello and give him an acknowledgment. He was a great man."

"It's very sad. It really is," said Boston resident Joan Kelly of White's death.  Though White hit bumps along the way, Kelly remembers White as a well-liked, uplifting mayor, dedicated to the city where he remained until death.

"I think his heart was in Boston no matter what was taking place," Kelly said. "I think he loved the city that he served."

This program aired on January 28, 2012.

Lynn Jolicoeur Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.



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