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City set for crowds to celebrate life of Kevin White

Public invited to wake, funeral

Bill Brett for The Boston Globe

The flag at the State House was flown at half staff yesterday out of respect for the late Kevin H. White, former mayor of Boston.

Bells at Faneuil Hall will toll Wednesday morning as the funeral procession for Kevin H. White pauses there to pay tribute to the iconic mayor at his statue.

The motorcade will then proceed to White’s home on Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill before arriving at St. Cecilia Church in the Back Bay for a funeral Mass, which the public is welcome to attend.

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“Obviously we’re expecting a lot of people there,’’ said George Regan, the public relations executive and longtime friend who is speaking on behalf of White’s family.

The outpouring of accolades and tributes has been so great that “if Kevin was still around, he might seek reelection,’’ Regan added.

The celebration of White’s life is intended as a public commemoration of his legacy - with an opportunity to pay respects at his wake in the Parkman House tomorrow from 2 to 8 p.m. and at a reception Wednesday in the Boston Public Library, where refreshments will be served, following the funeral. Burial will be private.

White, who died Friday after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about a decade ago, has been lauded in the days since for reshaping the city during his tenure, a sometimes tumultuous period that ran from 1968 to 1984.

“It would be hard to have a funeral for somebody who served as mayor for [16] years and transformed the city without having the public participate, and I think people want to participate,’’ said Peter Meade, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority who began his career working for White.

‘We will have police presence on hand to facilitate everyone’s ability to pay respect Kevin White.’

Elaine Driscoll Boston Police spokeswoman
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Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the department is preparing for large crowds and that commuters should expect street closures tomorrow and Wednesday in and around the Parkman House, on Beacon Street near the State House, and in the Back Bay in the area of Belvedere Street, where St. Cecelia is located.

“We will have police presence on hand to facilitate everyone’s ability to pay respect Kevin White and honor him,’’ she said.

The department will also send its honor guard to stand by the casket and its Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums to play the bagpipes.

Flags began flying at half staff over the State House and other state office buildings in Boston yesterday. Flags over city buildings will be lowered beginning today.

Dignitaries, including Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and most of the state’s top elected leaders, are planning to attend the funeral. William J. Bratton - the former police chief in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles - is coming from New York.

Bratton said White had a major influence on his career. White, and former police commissioner Joseph Jordan, promoted Bratton from lieutenant, in charge of a pilot neighborhood policing program, to the number two position in the department when he was 32.

“Kevin was a very significant catalyst in my career and throughout his time was always trying to reform the Boston Police Department,’’ Bratton said.

Eulogies will be delivered by Menino; US Representative Barney Frank; Robert Crane, a close friend and former state treasurer; and Mark White, the mayor’s son. White’s nine grandchildren will present the offertory gifts of bread and wine during the Mass.

The Rev. John J. Unni will be the lead celebrant of the Mass; the Rev. J. Donald Monan, a former Boston College president, will concelebrate.

St. Cecelia was one of three parishes where White attended Mass. He also attended St. Joseph, near Massachusetts General Hospital, and St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street.

Regan said that the former mayor’s widow, Kathryn White, has been overwhelmed with phone calls, notes, and flowers from residents in South Boston, Dorchester, and other sections of the city - people who remember White for helping them with major hurdles, such as getting their parents into an assisted-living facility.

“These aren’t the high and mighty,’’ he said.

Many of the tributes are coming from the children of people helped by White.

“These kids’ parents are now dead, but they have dropped off flowers and notes to say thank you,’’ Regan said.

PAYING RESPECTS The public can pay respects to Kevin White, Boston’s former mayor, at his wake in the Parkman House tomorrow from 2 to 8 p.m. and at a reception Wednesday in the Boston Public Library following the funeral. Burial will be private.

Globe correspondent Matt Byrne contributed to this report. Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.
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