BOSTON (CBS) – For a mayor of a major city, Tom Menino lived a very modest life. He and his wife Angela made the Hyde Park neighborhood their home.
Neighbors and local business owners say he made sure they had a voice at city hall.
"He must have been dealing with so many important things, but he always had time for the common man," said ice cream shop owner Ron Covitz.
Chris Rassias says he opened his restaurant, The Fairmount Grill, with the help of Menino. "The small business, especially here in Hyde Park is huge," Rassias said.
"He gave us advice you know how to start up, you know and the pitfalls and stuff like that," said Olrie Roberts, owner of ZAZ restaurant. "It was definitely good to meet him and to understand how much he loved the neighborhood."
Menino was the first Italian-American mayor of Boston, which made him a special inspiration to people who work and live in the North End.
"He is the greatest mayor we ever had," said Joseph Giangregorio of Green Cross Pharmacy. "When you're a good person, you mean a lot to everybody. And as far as I'm concerned, the Italian community appreciated him just because he was simple."
WBZ-TV's Bree Sison reports
Neighborhood councilor Anne Tagliaferro says Menino's legacy is one of respecting other opinions. "He was a great mayor and he has a lot of friends in the city here," Tagliaferro said. "The North End loved him and he loved the city."
Johnny Cammarata cut the mayor's hair for decades. "Many a times I said 'Mayor you're so famous around the country why don't you run for governor," Cammarata said. "[Menino responded] I don't want to be president, I don't want to be governor, I love being mayor."
Menino was there for the city during its darkest hour. After the Boston Marathon bombings, he was recovering from leg surgery and using a wheelchair, but still stood with the people of Boston and the businesses on Boylston Street.
"It could have still been complete chaos down here, but it never was, it never had that feeling," said Shane O'Hara, manager of Marathon Sports.
WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong reports
Marathon Sports was heavily damaged after the bombings but reopened faster than anyone expected.
"I would say the city's response was quite amazing," O'Hara said. "As far as we know it was from the direction of Mayor Menino to get this up and going again."
For O'Hara, it was further proof of the love that Menino had for his city.
A pub in Jamaica Plain had a special place in its heart for the former mayor. Doyle's Café has dozens of framed photos of Menino through the years and with other celebrities like Bill Cosby and former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
"He was down to earth; he wasn't trying to present himself as something bigger than what he was," said Bernie Doherty of Jamaica Plain. "He didn't have a Harvard education, he came up the hard way, he learned the lessons and he learned how to interact with people."
WBZ-TV's Ken MacLeod reports
"He understood the role he played and he within this city, and he played it very well," Doherty added.
"He loved the city," John McPhail of Roslindale said. "You can't say anything else bad about him. He did what he did and he did it well."
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