Tom Menino, Beloved Boston Mayor, Dies at 71 Years Old

Longtime Boston mayor Tom Menino has passed away at 71 years old. The news of his death was confirmed by a statement from his spokeswoman, Dot Joyce, which said that the former mayor was with his family when he passed away. Menino had been suffering from cancer since he was diagnosed with the disease in February 2014.

Menino was an institution in Boston, having served as its mayor for a whopping 21 years before stepping down from his post earlier this year. And he would have served longer if he were able — Menino made the decision to not seek a sixth (yes, sixth) term in office because of his health struggles. Unsurprisingly, it was "the most difficult decision of my life," according to the mayor himself, who was often dubbed the "Mayor for Life." That's not only because of his long-standing service to the city, but also due to the fact that residents actually wanted him to be, indeed, mayor for life. A Boston Globe poll conducted in 2008 even concluded that over half the population of Boston had met Menino at some point, and his approval ratings finished around 70 percent.

And there's little wonder why he was so beloved. The mayor was an undeniable character, known for his folksy manner. As the Associated Press notes, his first TV ad even poked fun at his penchant for gaffes, beginning with the words, “I’m Tom Menino. I’m not a fancy talker, but I get things done."

Menino proved that was true during the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Menino adored his city, even checking out of the hospital following surgery on a broken leg in order to help the victims of the terrorist attack. He said that day:

We are one Boston ... No adversity, no challenge, nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of this city and its people.

It was the type of attitude that was consistent with his campaign promises. Menino, who combated illegal gun purchases and memorably battled Chick-fil-A for its views against same-sex marriage during his run as mayor, hit home back in 1993 when he told media that, “I want to help people, help one individual a day. Just to make their life a little bit better.”

Based on the outpour of love on Twitter for Menino following news of his death, he certainly did accomplish that.

And President Obama released a statement about Menino:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Menino. Bold, big-hearted, and Boston strong, Tom was the embodiment of the city he loved and led for more than two decades. As Boston's longest-serving mayor, Tom helped make his hometown the vibrant, welcoming, world-class place it is today. His legacy lives on in every neighborhood he helped revitalize, every school he helped turn around, and every community he helped make a safer, better place to live. I had a chance to speak with Tom's wife, Angela, yesterday, and today our thoughts and prayers are with her, with the entire Menino family, and with the people of Boston who Tom loved so much, and who loved him in return.

Menino was, indeed, Boston strong.