Politicians, celebrities and lifelong friends said goodbye Monday to Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. at a funeral at the parish church in the neighborhood where the former House speaker grew up.
Vice President Al Gore led a delegation that included Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, House Speaker Tom Foley and House Republican Leader Robert Michel, a longtime political foe and personal friend of O'Neill, and Raymond Flynn, former Boston mayor and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.O'Neill, the former 17-term congressman, died Wednesday of a heart attack after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.
St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church could only accommodate about 900 people in the sanctuary, so hundreds stood outside in temperatures below 20 degrees to reminisce before the service and listen to it piped through a sound system. Mourners also viewed the funeral on live television and at remote broadcasts at the Statehouse and the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. federal building.
"If I was six feet deep in snow, I'd be here. This was a great guy," Frank Minelli, his barber and a friend from his North Cambridge neighborhood said as he entered the church.
"With Tip O'Neill, nobody ever had to ask where's the beef. When he talked about Medicare changes he thought of the people in his district that would benefit," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said.