Thomas M. Menino, the longest serving mayor in Boston history, died this morning at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he had been battling cancer.
Menino, 71, served 20 years as mayor after a career as city councilor. He was very much a man of his city - what other big-city mayor could boast of having shaken hands with a majority of the residents he served?
Elevated to mayor by accident - he was city-council president when Ray Flynn left for the Vatican - Menino preceded to win five terms on his own by large margins.
The "urban mechanic," a man of the neighborhoods who was not afraid of picking up stray trash he saw on the street, Menino also helped set in motion processes that will change the city for decades, most notably the work that led to the Innovation District atop acres of parking lots along the once somnolent South End waterfront.
And who can forget him disregarding his doctors' orders in the days after the Marathon bombings to stand up and eulogize its victims and oversee the effort to find the surviving Tsarnaev brother in Watertown?
Even in illness, he maintained his Boston brashness: Rather than relying on a simple cane, he jauntily used a baseball bat fashioned into a cane - one inscribed with the years of all the Red Sox World Series victories during his tenure.
And yet, he remained true to his roots: He always took his grandkids to school, and all the kids in Readville knew they could always count on the Meninos to hand out the good candy on Halloween in their Chesterfield Road Cape.
Menino also adopted a proudly liberal position on a number of social issues from LGBT rights to gun violence.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said:
We lost a great fighter today. Mayor Menino is gone, but his spirit lives on in every neighborhood in Boston.
Mayor Walsh said:
No man possessed a greater love for our City, and his dedicated life in service to Boston and her people and changed the face of the City.
Just a week ago, Menino announced he was stopping chemotherapy after being hospitalized for dehydration during a tour to promote his autobiography.
His family posted the following statement:
At just after 9:00 a.m. this morning the Honorable Thomas M. Menino passed into eternal rest after a courageous battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his devoted wife Angela, loving family, and friends. Mayor Menino, the longest serving Mayor of the City of Boston, led our city through a transformation of neighborhood resurgence and historic growth - leaving the job he loved, serving the city and people he loved this past January. We ask that you respect the families’ privacy during this time.
WBUR: Thomas Menino, A Boston Political Giant, Dies.