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Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino Dies at Age 71

Thomas Menino, Boston’s longest-serving mayor, died today at the age of 71 after battling cancer. Remembered for his dedication, amiability, and love of the city, Bostonians now mourn the loss of an icon.

“No man possessed a greater love for our City,” said current Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a statement, “[Menino] was a leader on policy issues that shaped the Boston we know today: from the environment, to youth engagement, to innovation, to crime prevention. But more than anything, he was a man of the neighborhoods… though he has passed, his legacy and spirit will be felt across the City for generations to come.”

Serving as mayor from July 1993 to January 2014, Menino earned the title “the urban mechanic” due to his care for the neighborhood’s functionality. He’d often be seen walking through Boston, greeting his constituents and confirming that the city was well-kept. In a 2008 Globe poll, more than half of the Bostonians who responded said they had met him personally.

Not only did he mind the details, but huge accomplishments were made under Menino’s administration. He oversaw the completion of the “Big Dig” project, the creation of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the construction of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and the revitalization of the Seaport District.

Menino was an advocate of same-sex marriage, gender equality, and consumer rights. In 1993, his first year as mayor, Menino said, “I want to help people, help one individual a day. Just to make their life a little bit better.”

He was a man of the people, and he never forgot that.

It was at the start of his fifth term that Menino’s health problems began. He would deal with Crohn’s disease, high blood pressure, an infected elbow, a torn tendon in his right knee, a blood clot, and a broken leg throughout the rest of his mayoral career.

These ailments lead Menino to feel he could not be the mayor he loved to be anymore. Just months after Menino announced he would not be running for a sixth term, the Boston bombing struck the hearts of every citizen.

When he heard the news, Menino checked himself out of the hospital where he was being treated for a broken leg – against his doctor’s advice. The mayor knew he had to support the city he loved.

At an interfaith service for those killed and injured in the bombing, Menino said, “We are one Boston… No adversity, no challenge, nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of this city and its people.”

Menino seemed to embody this resilience. Even with the ridiculous malapropisms that earned him the nickname “Mumbles Menino,” the man was beloved by the citizens of Boston.

His final term ended in January 2014 – twenty years after he was first elected as mayor. When he received his cancer diagnosis just two months later, Menino said, “I’ve beat other things back and I’ll beat this one.  I’m a fighter.”

Autumn brought a new mayor, Martin J. Walsh, to Boston, but Menino never stopped his civic work. He spent his last year working as co-director of Boston University’s new Initiative on Cities program, which studies issues challenging the future of the world’s cities.

Now passed, Menino is survived by his wife, Angela, their two kids, Susan and Thomas Jr., and six grandchildren. He will be remembered as the mayor with a temper, a mumble, and mostly, a heart. He gave his all to the citizens of Boston throughout his life.

Menino summed his career up well when he said in July 2013, “This job, my legacy, is about the people.”

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