A line of more than 200 people wrapped around the block outside Florian Hall in Dorchester Sunday afternoon, with people of all ages waiting patiently to pay their respects to former Bruins player and Boston College hockey star Jimmy Hayes, who died last week.
Hundreds more had filtered through the Hall by mid-afternoon, some arriving before the wake began at 1 p.m. in order to be among the first to say their goodbyes and offer condolences to the family.
Hayes died Aug. 23 in his Milton home. The cause of death has not been released but authorities have said it was not considered suspicious. He leaves his wife, Kristen, and two sons, Beau, 2, and Mac, 3 months.
A funeral Mass for Hayes, who grew up in Dorchester, will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Ann’s Church in Neponset.
On the day before Hayes’s death, the family had celebrated Beau’s second birthday.
“I knew it would be busy, but this turnout is way beyond what I expected,” said Donnell Anderson, 51, who lives in Dorchester.
Anderson said he’d been standing in line more than an hour and was prepared to wait another two, if that’s how long it took to enter the building and say his farewell.
Nearly everyone in line was dressed formally but Anderson wore his Bruins jersey in memory of Hayes.
Anderson said he met Hayes’s father more than four decades ago, when the two would watch Bruins games together in the ‘80s. Anderson, a season-ticket holder, remembered watching Hayes on the ice first as a Boston College hockey player and then as a Bruin.
“He didn’t let stardom get to his head,” said Anderson. “He was a simple man, like all hockey players are, but a nice guy and outgoing, with a good family.”
Hayes’s Boston College jersey was in a frame by the door, near a table with two guest books filled with names and a stack of memorial cards for guests, each with an image of Hayes and an Irish blessing printed on either side. Inside, dozens of flower arrangements were lined up in the hall, with photo collages of Hayes on stands at every turn.
On the table in front of one floral arrangement was a child’s drawing of Hayes in his Bruins jersey, with the number 11 beside him and the words “we miss you” written overhead.
Still more pictures and videos of Hayes from boyhood to fatherhood flashed across the wall at the front of the room: the player surrounded by friends and teammates at Boston College, smiling brightly on his wedding day, and holding his firstborn son on his lap in the car, pretending to teach him to drive.
Many people walked through the Hall in tears, dabbing at wet eyes with tissues or stopping to embrace friends and family.
In the back of the hall Hayes’s body lay in a coffin with a massive arrangement of white roses that spelled “Dad,” supported by two hockey sticks. Beside it, red roses in the shape of a hockey stick leaned against the table.