Tears streamed down Melisha McCollim’s face. "I’m so lost for words I don’t even know what to say right now,” she said.
McCollim came to Boston’s City Hall to thank former Boston Mayor Tom Menino for everything he had done for her family, particularly her cousin Mattie Williams.
"She lost everything,” she said. “He was there to help us build it back from the ground up and we greatly appreciate him."
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Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino passed away Thursday after his battle with cancer. He was 71.
Williams’ Mattapan home crumbled in flames in 2000 — killed were her 10-year-old nephew and 4-year-old grandson. The Boston woman was injured jumping out a window and McCollim says Menino led the effort to get her an accessible new home.
“He got her house built over where there was level ground,” she said. “He was just there to help us get through this."
McCollim’s is one of many stories being told here in an unusually quiet City Hall.
Said Edward Saulniel, “He was the greatest mayor this city has ever seen. I’m really going miss him."
Saulniel has lived in Charlestown his whole life. he came tonight to sign a remembrance book for the mayor. He wished him peace and thanked him for comforting the city after the Boston Marathon bombings.
"He made it stronger,” he said. “He made it tougher. He made it more wonderful the way the city is."
Said Tom O’Connor, “It’s a better place it’s a cleaner place, it’s happier place."
O'Connor doesn’t live in Boston he’s much further south in Plymouth.
“It’s our city,” he said. “Even when you live 50 miles away this is still the big city."
Every walk of life — of city life and beyond — has streamed through these doors. The doors were open late to welcome them in — something Menino would have done if he were here.
Said Angela Ciccone of Revere. “Even through the television you could connect with him. He came from humble beginnings and he stayed that way and he didn’t have to. That’s admirable as well."
Steve Wynands said Menino always gave a hand up to the homeless, the hungry, the veterans and the marginalized.
“Tom’s been one of the best mayors in Boston, in Massachusetts, in the United States."
Gino Colafella couldn’t agree more. “He was great person,” he said. “Just a pleasure to have. It was amazing."
Colafella was Menino’s personal barber, clipping his locks at his small shop on Hanover Street in the North End.
"When he first came in he had a lot of hair and we had to thin it out a bit,” he said. “Now…” he laughed.
Colafella said Menino never wanted to talk politics. He just loved to talk about family, community and faith.