Mayor Thomas M. Menino died today surrounded by his wife Angela, son Thomas Jr., daughter Susan and other family members and friends.
I feel so sad. I’m sad for his family, his friends, co-workers, his staff, members of the city council but most of all I’m sad for Boston.
Mayor Menino served as Mayor for twenty years. Before that he was involved in various facets of the political landscape, first as a City Councilor then as president of the Boston City Council. But it was his job as our city’s Mayor that he really loved.
A Boston Globe poll taken in 2009 showed that 57% of adult Bostonians had personally met the Mayor. I’m shocked this figure isn’t higher. Mayor Menino was everywhere. From Chinatown to the South End, from Brighton and the Fenway to Dorchester, Roxbury, Beacon Hill and Back Bay, Jamaica Plain, the West End and West Roxbury. He frequented Roslindale, Southie, the North End, Charlestown and of course his home Hyde Park. Tom Menino WAS Boston.
As I wandered around my neighborhood in the North End, the city felt oddly subdued. The sky was gray, people were scarce and flags were lowered to half-staff. I crossed to the Green Way, one of the Mayor’s most glorious achievements. An outdoor space that serves as a respite for city dwellers and tourists alike. He turned Boston green, planting miles of new trees, grass and flowers along with developing, promoting and implementing new “green building” initiatives. The first in the nation.
He was responsible for BU Medical Center’s merger with Boston City Hospital privatizing and forming a top notch medical facility, Boston Medical Center in 1996.
He fought together with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006 to form a gun control coalition to put an end to senseless gun violence.
He was a staunch supporter of Gay. Lesbian and Transgender rights. In 2012 he shut the door on plans to build a Chik-Fil-A because of the controversial remarks of the company’s owner.
The mark of a true leader is someone who can step forward during times of horror and chaos, take charge and make the citizens under his leadership feel protected and safe. That’s exactly what Mayor Menino did during the days following the Boston Marathon bombing, discharging himself from his hospital bed 2 days after surgery in order to be with the citizens of his beloved city.
Whether or not you questioned his politics, there was no questioning his love and dedication to the city of Boston and it’s people.
And so on this gray day people will gather, reminisce and shed tears as the news of our great loss sets in.
And though he was no longer Mayor due to declining health, there was a sense of comfort knowing he was still around. Still visiting neighborhoods, attending Sox games and sharing his insights with new Mayor elect, Marty Walsh.
I do take some comfort in knowing that although he is no longer a physical force here in our beloved Boston, his spirit remains and will be ever present in all the areas of the city that he has touched. Our “Mayor for Life” will forever be that. A great man, a strong man and an honest man. Our Mayor.
I’m positive that if heaven is in need of renovation, revitalization and innovation, Tom Menino will be the angel appointed to tackle that project.
Rest in Peace Mr. Mayor. You’ve certainly earned it.