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February 3, 2012     Post-Gazette
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February 3, 2012
 

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POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 3, 2012 Page 9 Kevin H. White (Continued from Page 1) Mayor White hosting a dinner for Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Boston July 11, 1976 as part of the Bicentennial of the United States of America. L-R: Queen Elizabeth, Mayor White, Kathryn White and Prince Philip. Mayor White enjoyed visiting the neighborhoods. Fred Langone, Mayor White and Danny Nuzzo. Mayor White listening to the concerns of the North End residents at the Prado on Hanover Street in the North End. city was slowly edging forward but at times it looked like two steps forward and one step back. Racial tensions growing in several city neighborhoods slipped over into politics as Hicks became the voice of discontent for many and White attempted to be that voice of reason. He finished runner-up to Hicks that September but beat her in November to win the job of mayor. He would go on to get elected three more times and evolved over the years into whom some con- sider the first modern mayor of Boston. You know that old song about being part country and part rock and roll? White was part old- school Boston politics. Both his fa- ther, grandfather and father-in- law all served as City Council President. He obviously had poli- tics in his DNA. He loved it. How- ever, he also had a leadership vi- sion of trying to make Boston the best it could be. One of the slogans used to describe him stated that he was "A Loner in Love with his City." Loner, I don't know, but he was in love with his city. Boston in the Seventies went through much racial turmoil as out- side forces demonized the ethnic neighborhoods of South Boston and Charlestown. Court-ordered busing divided the city and the mayor was called upon time and time again to hold the city together. He succeeded for the most part. Many called him a polarizing figure but he really wasn't. I always say Boston elects the mayor it needs at various times in city history. Boston Herald columnist Peter Lucas poked fun at him calling him Mayor of America" and "Kevin DeLuxe: Anti-Busers would call him Kevin from Heaven. With all trans- parency, I was a Joe Timilty guy through White's first three terms as mayor. However, by 1979, I actually supported his re-election bid. I re- member writing a newspaper col- umn explaining my change of heart over him. A short time later I received a note from the mayor say- ing it was about time I supported him. He appreciated that I was always fair to him in my criticisms. Looking back now, I think he would have made a good governor and I am sure he would have been good at any office he sought because he put 110 percent into everything he did. I also remember my mother met him one year after he left the Mayor's Office. He was glad to see my mother remembered him and told him she always voted for him. She also told him I was her son. My mother told me he laughed at get- ting that news and told her I was a great newspaper writer especially when I said good things about him. The last time I spoke with him and his wife Kathryn was under the Golden Tea Kettle at the Starbucks by City Hall Plaza. He was there to Angelo Picardi and Mayor White sing- ing a tune during Summerthing Con- certs at City Hall Plaza. watch the Columbus Day parade march by him. We talked for a while about the old days when he and I were younger. We talked about Charlestown politics. We talked about how great Boston grew under his helm and that of Ray Flynn and Tommy Menino who followed him into office. We hugged each other and made our goodbyes. Too many people saw him as stand-offish but he really wasn't that guy at all. He had great wit and a great smile that he often used as a political tool when necessary. Many people in my generation learned so much from him. You need to be serious when you have to be but you need to be able to laugh during your struggles too. Was he bigger than life and my answer would be in the negative. He wasn't bigger than life but he used his time well and for a purpose. There was a quote in the newspa- per recently by former City Coun- cilor Larry DiCara, "It's a sad day for Boston ... he deserves a (10-foot statue across from City Hall} statue that is bigger than life." I disagree with my friend Larry, the statue is too big and out of reach. This mayor was never distant from the city; he had an intimate relationship with all parts of it. He was approachable, funny and proud to call himself a Bostonian. Recently, as US Senator John F. Kerry stood gazing at the Kevin White bronze statue, an 8-year-old boy stood next to him doing likewise. Kerry asked the boy, "Do you know who this is?" The little boy answered, "A famous man." I would like to add, a man with a vision for tomorrow. His eyes always fixed on the future. Boston is a better place because of him. Mayor White (center) Phil D'Alessandro and Pat Barrasso (far right) meeting with AmVets. (Photo Courtesy of Pat Barrasso) Mayor White (L) and Fred Langone (R) in the StiUman Street Playground in the North End of Boston ..............