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Boston says goodbye to former mayor Kevin White

Globe reporters are covering the procession and funeral service today for former Mayor Kevin H. White, as residents say goodbye to the political giant who led the city from 1968 to 1984, changing the city’s skyline while grappling with turbulent times.

The procession began at 10 a.m. at the Parkman House, the city’s mansion on Beacon Hill, where thousands turned out Tuesday to pay their respects. The funeral service began about an hour later at St. Cecilia’s Church.

Follow the Globe team on Twitter for moment-to-moment updates: Noah Bierman (@Noahbierman), Meghan Irons (@MeghanIrons), Martine Powers (@martinepowers), Milton Valencia (@MiltonValencia), Eric Moskowitz (GlobeMoskowitz), and Andrew Ryan (GlobeAndrewRyan).

1:15 p.m.: The casket is carried out of the church as bagpipes play a mournful tune.

1:07 p.m.: “Let us now take our brother to his place of burial,” priest says.

1:04 p.m.: Priest leads final prayer of commendation: “Now we come to the last farewell, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we will see him again.”


1:01 p.m.: Priest thanks Kathyrn for keeping the promises and giving an example of married love.

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12:59 p.m.: “He would have loved to have been here. And, frankly speaking, I’m sure he is in his own way here. ... The town won’t be the same without Kevin. I have a note here that says, ‘It will be better.’ Signed Tom Menino. I’ll pay for that, won’t I, Tom?” Crane quips, drawing more laughter. “God bless you, Kevin, the song has ended, but the melody lingers on.”

12:56 p.m.: He praises Kathryn White for her love and devotion as her husband battled Alzheimer’s. “Never once did you give into fear, frustration, or fatigue. ... You were magnificent, you were fantastic. You were his Florence Nightingale, you were his angel. ... Kevin loved you so much, Kathryn, and so do we,” Crane says.

12:55 p.m.: Crane says he always felt “the image of haughtiness was unfair,” and White always had time for children.

12:54 p.m.: “There was another Kevin ... the one that recruited the great young minds, that mentored them, empowring them to become leaders of the next generation.”


12:52 p.m.: “He wasn’t a backslapper. His personality was almost shy.” Crane’s remarks are peppered with quips.

12:51 p.m.: “He dreamed not only of making this a better city but of making this a better world.”

12:49 p.m.: “I didn’t lose my friend, I know exactly where he is,” says Crane.

12:44 p.m.: After an ovation for the son, “That perhaps is the biggest hand I’ve ever gotten in my life,” wisecracks former state treasurer Robert Crane, drawing laughter and applause.

12:43 p.m.: When he was growing up, family life “was always filled with the unexpected. It was creatively chaotic and it was fun,” he recalls. He remembers Christmas when he was 13 when the kids got a “magical gift.” “He leads us out the front door onto Mt. Vernon Street. and there, standing on the sidewalk, was a horse.” Both the horse and his mother wore shocked expressions. The son drew a parallel between what his father did for his family and what he did for the city, turning “crazy ideas into reality.” “He was quite simply the most interesting imaginative, fun, and loving father -- and friend -- a son could ever have. I shall miss him dearly.”


12:36 p.m.: “His incandescent energy, curiosity, humor, and compassion not only lifted the city but also .... filled our home.”

12:34 p.m.: Mayor White’s son, Mark, who bears a strong resemblance to his father, speaks and thanks Mayor Menino and the people of Boston for their support. Also thanks people present who have “journeyed” with his father.

12:20 p.m.: People file up to take Communion.

The Boston Globe
Kathryn White, White’s widow, was escorted out of the Parkman House by family members as she headed into the limousine for the procession. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)

12:15 p.m.: In a common practice at Mass, the priest invites people turn to each other and exchange a “sign of peace” -- the handshake. A lot of well-practiced handshakes are exchanged among this group used to public life.

12:10 p.m.: Priest celebrates Communion, proclaiming the “mystery of faith.”

11:59 a.m.: Patricia White leads congregation in prayer.

11:58 a.m. “Kevin was a hardheaded visionary whose strong faith allowed him to see God. to serve God, as well as the community,” Monan says, describing White as wonderful, immensely kind, tough-minded, sensitive, and gracious.

11:55 a.m.: White “knew that ... God’s gifts always bring responsibility to others.”

11:54 a.m.: White lived in a “world of hard decisions and deeply felt human decisions.”

11:51 a.m.: The Reverend J. Donald Monan, former Boston College president, delivers eulogy to congregation, saying he shares with them a common sentiment of deep admiration, affection, and gratitude to White. “Life will never be quite the same for you without the presence of this towering figure of a man. ... In God’s good time, Kevin’s life was altogether complete. It was your love that made possible every step along the way.”

11:49 a.m.: A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew.

11:46 a.m.: Son Christopher and daughter Patricia deliver second reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.

11:44 a.m.: Mass continues with family members reading from Book of Ecclesiastes, followed by hymn “The Lord’s My Shepherd.”

11:34 a.m.: “We are here today celebrating the extraordinary life of a man who exemplified politics and government at its best,” says Frank, describing White as a “very great figure who has given us a great deal.”

11:29 a.m.: Frank spins a variety of reminiscences, drawing laughter from the crowd.

11:27 a.m.: Frank recalls White’s role in Big Dig project. “I remember Kevin pounding on the glass wall ... pointing to the Central Artery and saying that bleeping monstrosity has got to go.”

11:25 a.m.: Frank is the second speaker. He says he learned from White, “Be the best person you can, but don’t be phony.”

11:17 a.m.: Menino: “He made us proud to be Bostonians. ... He set a standard many of us are still trying to live up to.”

11:15 a.m.: Menino recalls White introducing James Brown at 1968 concert credited with preventing riots in the city. “Because of him, unlike so many other big cities in America, Boston kept the peace,” Menino says.

11:13 a.m.: Menino is the first speaker, describing White as someone with a “grand vision” and “irresistible personality.” Menino asks: “Does anyone doubt that Boston was put on a path of greatness by Mayor White?”

11:10 a.m.: The Reverend John Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia’s opens the funeral ceremony.

11 a.m.: The pallbearers have removed the casket from the hearse and are carrying it into the church. The casket is draped with a casket bearing the city seal.

10:49 a.m.: The procession arrives at the church and family members, including Kathryn White, emerge from a limousine to shake hands and share hugs with the crowd.

10:45 a.m.: The procession crawls under the flag hoisted by the fire department, led by a phalanx of Boston police bagpipers and drummers.

10:44 a.m.: Dignitaries sighted at the church include Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Governor Deval Patrick US Senator John F. Kerry, and US Representative Barney Frank, a former aide to White.

10:36 a.m.: Holly Marcus, 51, of the North End lays flowers at the White statue at Faneuil Hall after the procession passes. “I liked listening to his voice. Out of all the mayors, I loved his voice best,” she tells Martine Powers.

10:20 a.m.: While dignitaries gather at the church, a WCVB-TV helicopter shot shows the procession rolling up Commonwealth Avenue and turning left on Massachusetts Avenue, nearing its destination, where the fire department has raised a giant flag between two ladder trucks. The sidewalks appeared mostly empty, apparently reflecting the fact that White left office nearly three decades ago.

10:09 a.m.: As the procession continues, mourners are filing into St. Cecilia’s Church, while bagpipes play in the distance, Eric Moskowitz reports.

10:03 a.m.: The procession arrives at the statue of White at Faneuil Hall as a bell tolls in the background, Martine Powers reports. It made a brief pause as a small group of people looked on and took pictures.

9:59 a.m.: The procession leaves the Parkman House, the official residence White once renovated and enjoyed using, Bierman reports. Local TV stations are offering live coverage, including helicopter shots.

9:57 a.m.: White’s son, Christopher, says his mother, Kathryn, shook every single hand Tuesday at the wake and hugged people when she could no longer grip, Bierman reports. Christopher White said the widow is going through a lot and is exhausted. For family, today is “like one foot in front of the other.”

9:45 a.m.: Friends and family are streaming out of the Parkman House. The procession will include four buses and five limousines, Noah Bierman reports.