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Thomas Menino, Boston's Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies At 71

Boston Mayor Tom Menino served for 20 years before stepping down this year. He died on Thursday.
Lisa Poole
Boston Mayor Tom Menino served for 20 years before stepping down this year. He died on Thursday.

Boston's longest-serving mayor, Thomas Michael Menino, who held the job for more than two decades until stepping aside earlier this year, has died. He was 71.

"At just after 9 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," Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said in a statement.

Menino, who was diagnosed with cancer just a month after leaving office, "rode the support of minority communities, labor and others to election in 1993 after serving as acting mayor, ending decades of Irish domination in city politics," according to The Associated Press.

The Boston Globe called him "an old-school politician whose own smarts owed more to the streets than the college classroom."

" 'Visionaries don't get things done,' he once said, crisply separating himself from politicians who gaze at distant horizons and imagine what might be. Leaving to others the lofty rhetoric of Boston as the Athens of America, he took a decidedly ground-level view of the city on a hill, earning himself a nickname for his intense focus on the nuts and bolts of everyday life: the urban mechanic."

Member station WBUR in Boston reports:

"He could be hard-nosed in pushing for what he felt was needed, including times during his last term, when he was determined to wield the power of his office, even if from a wheelchair.

"Nowhere was that more obvious than during one of the darkest weeks in Boston's history.

"On April 15, 2013, twin explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon claimed the lives of three people, crippled and maimed dozens more, sending scores to Boston-area hospitals, including the Brigham and Women's where Menino himself was a patient.

"Days later, after being wheeled to the podium by his son Tommy Jr., Menino valiantly stood up, joining President Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick and 2,000 other mourners at a memorial service at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.