Teresa Stanley was once the lead woman in the life of gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, but Tuesday she was remembered at her funeral Mass as a woman who always put her family first.
“She was the most beautiful person inside and out, and to me she was reminiscent of a Hollywood glamour girl,” her granddaughter Colleen Nilan said at the service at Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston. “Her ability to support her family unconditionally stands out to me.”
Stanley died Thursday of lung cancer at her home in South Boston, surrounded by her family. She was 71.
When she began dating Bulger in fall 1966, the South Boston native was 26 and divorced with four children, ages 3 months to 7 years. She spent nearly 30 years with the gangster, but refused to abandon her family to stay with Bulger on the run in 1995. She had also learned in 1994 that he had cheated on her, having a relationship with Catherine Greig.
After Bulger dropped Stanley in Hingham in February 1995, Greig joined him, and they fled the area.
Bulger, now 82, was arrested with Greig in June 2011, after 16 years on the lam. He is scheduled to go on trial in March on a sweeping federal indictment accusing him of participating in 19 murders.
Greig pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and other charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Stanley had testified in court that she was unaware of Bulger’s alleged criminal activities. She had said that the extent of the crimes he is accused of shocked and sickened her.
On Tuesday, she was remembered as a woman who was devoted to her family. Nilan noted how her grandmother adored fashion and had the looks of a Hollywood star. At the same time, she joked that Stanley was known to move slowly when doing everyday activities: Nilan said she eventually took it as a lesson to appreciate life. Stanley’s favorite song included the line, “When you only got 100 years to live.”
“We can slow ourselves down enough to experience what each day has to offer,” she said. “Even the luckiest people in the world have 100 years to live, so cherish every moment, as Teresa did.”