By Peter Shanley, Rebeca Oliveira and John Ruch/Gazette Staff
A “legend.” A “giant.” A “champion of the underdog.”
Those are just a few of the ways local leaders remember former Mayor Thomas Menino, who died today, as seen in the following quotes.
The Gazette will continue to update this story with more local tributes.
State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez
“A giant is gone from Earth, but he lives on in our souls. He gave his life to the city in so many ways.”
“[He was] the greatest mayor of the city. He brought people together. He was that constant that everybody knew who worked for the benefit of the city.”
Sánchez, a JP resident who formerly worked in finance, recalled how Menino got him involved in City government and made him realize his true passion in public service. Sánchez worked for Menino in the 1990s in various roles, including on the U.S. Census outreach and on early community planning for the Jackson Square redevelopment.
Menino’s hands-on, fix-it-up approach to the city improved Jamaica Plain “dramatically,” Sánchez recalled. “That is the legacy he left behind. People could be proud of their communities.”
The founding editor and publisher of the Gazette and longtime Boston community journalist covered most of Menino’s career back to his days as a Hyde Park city councilor in the 1980s.
“Over the years then and later when he was mayor, I got to know a true champion of the underdog. His stands on sometimes unpopular proposals, like location of a halfway house in the neighborhood, as well as racial and gender equality issues, seemed to come from an admirable, instinctive, even tough sense of justice and fairness he had.”
City Councilor Matt O’Malley
“I’m heartbroken. We have lost a legend.”
O’Malley, the District 6 City Councilor and a JP resident, noted he was 13 years old when Menino became mayor. O’Malley ended up serving on the City Council for several years under Menino’s leadership.
“He was great. He was so on top of everything that was happening, every detail…He was wonderful to work with. I learned a lot from him.”
Rebuilding Together Boston
Menino is being remembered by Rebuilding Together Boston, a JP-based nonprofit that assists low-income homeowners with property repairs. The former mayor’s wife, Angela Menino, once served on the organization’s advisory board.
“Mayor and Mrs. Menino cared deeply for the City’s neediest, including low-income homeowners, many of whom could not afford to make critical repairs to their homes,” said RTB board co-chairs Janice Daue Walker and Michael Potter in a written statement. “We always have been appreciative of their support of our Rebuilding Together Boston volunteers and sponsors. Mayor Menino took the time to come to our projects, reaching out to the community as well as separately engaging with our staff and board…We will miss him greatly.”
Gerry Burke, owner of Doyle’s Café
“It’s still a sad day in Boston,” Burke said on Oct. 31. “He was a long time friend of everyone in the city. He was a good, good man.”
Doyle’s smaller function room is named in Menino’s honor. Menino was a long-time friend and patron of the bar at 3484 Washington St.
“The city has lost a true champion, no question about it,” he said.
Kathy Mainzer, co-owner Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge
“We are very saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague Mayor Menino. He became mayor the same year that we opened Bella Luna in 1993 and was always a huge supporter of the restaurant and the causes we care about. He fought big battles against gun violence and inequality, and smaller battles against broken windows and littered sidewalks. He taught us that we don’t have to be great orators or have advanced degrees to make huge and lasting contributions. We just have to care and make the effort. A great role model and champion for our diverse city.”