By Haley Costen
Boston’s longest-serving mayor Thomas Menino lost his battle with cancer last week at the age of 71.
Menino was known for fighting to renovate and rejuvenate Boston neighborhoods like Dudley Square and Roslindale. He also championed gay rights, marching in the city’s pride parade, and fought against discrimination as the first Italian-American mayor of Boston after a decade of Irish-American mayors. Menino also fought to empower women and girls.
In an email on Friday, President Drinan called Menino a real friend to Simmons in his physical presence and encouragement.
“Mayor Menino was a regular face at Simmons events, supporting girls to reach their full potential as individuals,” Drinan said in the email.
In 2000, Simmons awarded an honorary degree in public service to Menino for his dedication to educational reform, his commitment to serving all people, and his success in improving the quality of life in the Boston, according to Drinan.
Drinan and Menino were both honored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass. as “remarkable leaders who have made a positive impact through their career and in the community,” Ruth N. Bramson, CEO of the local Girl Scouts organization, told BostInno.
Last year Menino appointed School of Management Dean Cathy Minehan to chair the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. The council was just one of Menino’s initiatives to support women in the workforce and to close the wage gap between genders.
“We’ll make Boston the first city in the country to achieve pay equity for women,” Menino said in his 2013 State of the City address.
Last year Mayor Menino created a forum, “Women on Main,” a networking forum for women-owned businesses in Boston’s main street businesses. He also declared Aug. 23, 2013 “Girl Power Day,” and created the “Girls MAKE the City” festival to connect middle school girls with female role models in the STEM fields.
“In 2013, we will also make Boston a premier city for working women,” Menino said in the 2013 address. “Women make up more than half of Boston’s residents, but less than a third of our business owners. We can do better.”
Thousands paid their respects to Menino during his 19-mile funeral procession deemed his “last ride home,” by his aides on Tuesday.
People of all races and ages gathered from City Hall to the Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park, where Menino was an altar boy in his youth. Spectators waved signs saying personal messages and “Thank You Mayor Menino.”
One thousand people gathered in the Most Precious Blood Parish for the former mayor’s funeral service, including Mayor Martin Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, and Secretary of State John Kerry. Former president Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden were in attendance as well.
Boston sports legends were also present at the mass. Former Celtics center Bill Russell, former Red Sox player Pedro Martinez, and David Ortiz all paid their respects to the mayor.
“The people-loving urban mechanic has gone to fix potholes in heaven,” said Walsh, Menino’s successor. “I want to say, with all of Boston and for all of Boston, thank you, Mayor Menino.”