Patricia Papa was setting up for Thursday’s big event at Faneuil Hall with the busy, agitated air of someone who needed a distraction. Boston’s film director and special events coordinator has worked for the city for three decades, under three mayors. Nothing had hit her like the impending departure of Mayor Thomas M. Menino. He’s like family, she said.
“It hurts to see him not be mayor anymore,” said Papa, director of the city’s film bureau and special events liaison. “He’s the face of the city. He always will be.”
Hours earlier, she had left Menino’s office looking distraught — one of a parade of city employees who streamed through the mayor’s office to pay their respects to Menino in what started to seem like a living wake. Some aides left wiping their eyes or visibly upset. Others talked up the good times, saying he was going out on a high note. All credited the work ethic of a public servant who had worked doggedly for constituents for 20 years and who worked them just as hard.
A famously tough and demanding boss who drilled down on the small problems of neighborhoods and beat back any perceived slights to his authority, Menino surely wasn’t easy. But with his famous devotion to the city and the fierce loyalty he commanded from his aides, the prospect of him leaving City Hall left many dumbstruck.
“The way that he approaches the job, it’s all about the people in the communities and helping those people. You don’t mind that he’s tough on you,” said Sean Regan, 30, neighborhood coordinator for South Boston in the Department of Neighborhood Services. “I believe in him . . . That makes it all worth it when you’re able to actually help people.”
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