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    A close encounter of the public service kind: Mike Dukakis, at 84, still walking the walk

    Not asking for any credit, the former governor picks up litter on the way to work.
    David Abel/Globe Staff
    Not asking for any credit, the former governor picks up litter on the way to work.

    In the distance, I saw a lonely figure in a blue-collared shirt and khaki pants bent over, reaching toward the ground.

    David Abel/Globe Staff

    As I approached, I could make out the familiar side part of the man’s well-cropped silver mane, and the trusty plastic bag he was holding in his right hand.

    At that moment, on a path near Northeastern University, it became clear that this was not someone in distress but The Duke — the former three-term governor of Massachusetts who was also the 1988 Democratic nominee for president — doing what he has done for decades: cleaning up after others, looking after his city, without anyone looking.

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    As he walked to his job teaching at Northeastern from his home in Brookline, Michael Dukakis was filling his bag with trash that other, less-civic-minded residents left behind. Not seeking credit, just trying to help.

    At 84, the Duke is still walking the walk, just as I had chronicled 15 years before in this piece for the Globe.

    RELATED: 2015: Michael Dukakis would very much like your turkey carcass

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    David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.