Everyone in our office stopped what they were doing when we heard about the passing of our beloved former Mayor Tom Menino. Although it was not a surprise—it had been announced a week ago that he was discontinuing his cancer treatments and was in hospice care—it still felt like a punch to the gut.
For some of our younger team, Mayor Menino was the only Mayor they have ever really known. Even those of us that have been around the block can have trouble remembering that he wasn’t the only Mayor we’d ever had, before he “retired” last year.
He was the only Mayor that we’ve had since we started our business in 1996, and so in a way, he is the only mayor I’ve known. As we grew our business and involvement in the City and community, we were lucky enough to get to know him. It started when we purchased an auction item at a charity event: lunch with the Mayor. We ended up hosting that lunch at Radius, which was a client at the time, and bringing four local CEOs that the Mayor did not know well—Jeff Taylor, from Monster and then Eons, Doug Rauch of Trader Joe’s, Sue Morelli from Au Bon Pain, and the general manager of Pepsi’s recently acquired Stacy’s Pita Chips. The Mayor so enjoyed meeting this group that he invited us to have another lunch with additional clients. And we did.
After that, he invited me and my Castle partner Wendy to have lunch with him at the Parkman House. What an honor and opportunity. And what fun! Over the years, the relationship grew. He helped us christen our Charlestown real estate when we had our new office party, and we had many opportunities to interact with him, and the amazing Angela Menino, over the years, through client events and projects, charitable causes, and City functions and projects.
One of our most memorable experiences came a few autumns ago, when we were hosting our global PR firm affiliates from PRGN for a semi-annual conference. This was the first time the conference had been hosted in Boston, and we had many plans to show off our City, but the highlight was unplanned, and happened because of Mayor Menino. While we were in our conference, one of our team realized that the Mayor was in the same hotel, speaking in the room next door to ours. When he came out, we greeted him, and let him know that we were hosting an international cadre of PR firm owners behind the closed door. Mayor Menino spontaneously offered to greet and briefly address the group, and then did just that, even posing for photos with the group’s president, our colleague from Ireland. As we hear so often, he was all about the people, and this was an opportunity to welcome new people to his City and shake more hands. It meant a lot to us, and to our attendees, and is just one teeny tiny example of his generous spirit and passion for representing Boston.
Mayor Menino was a champion for the City—there is no doubt of that. He was also a champion for small business, and we were lucky enough to get to know him because we fall into that category. I’ll be honest: every time I saw him in person and when I received a phone call from him, it was thrilling to be the focus of his attention, even for a brief moment.
We’re so deeply saddened by his passing. Having lost my mother to cancer two and a half years ago, I know what a toll this disease can take on a person and the family, and his wife, children and grandchildren are at the top of my mind. I am sending them my prayers and good wishes.
We all know the stories about how personally he touched the City’s residents and businesses. Everyone has at least one Tom Menino story or memory—right now I am looking at a photo of him with my daughter at our Castle party and another of the group of us who attended the Radius lunch. We are all connected through him at this sorrowful moment.
Thank you, Mayor Menino, for being a friend and role model to us, and for showing us all what it means to take pride in, and be connected to, the City you loved.