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MOURNING
Brian Honanís wake
BY SETH GITELL

The wake of Brighton city councilor Brian Honan is destined to become one of those mythic political memories that will live for years in the minds of those who attended. Thousands converged at Lehman & Reen Funeral Home on Chestnut Hill Avenue last Thursday and Friday, August 1 and 2, to pay their respects to the 39-year-old city councilor, who died July 30 following complications from surgery.

On Thursday, the mourners kept the wake going until midnight, well after the 9 p.m. hour it was scheduled to end. At its longest, the line snaked all the way up Chestnut Hill Avenue to the fire station, roughly two-tenths of a mile away. On Friday, conditions were even more dramatic. Stifling humidity gave way to torrential downpours sometime after 3:30 p.m. Attendees waited for three hours in furious thunderstorms for their turn to get inside, dodging a river of rain water that whisked past on its way to the drain. Political big shots like State Representative Martin Walsh of Dorchester and State Senator Jack Hart of South Boston shared umbrellas. One man even grabbed a large plastic bucket to wear over his head as rain protection. Everyone waited and nobody left. When, for example, House Speaker Tom Finneran finally departed after going inside, you could see through his rain-soaked shirt.

There was something very Irish, very Catholic, and very Boston about the whole scene. Finneranís predecessor, Charles Flaherty, waited in line just in front of Honanís Little League coach, who had driven an hour and a half from New Hampshire to attend. Everybody wanted to pay respects to the fallen city councilor and candidate for district attorney. The overwhelming message of the mourners on those days ó and at Honanís majestic funeral on Saturday ó was one of love for the man who died too soon. Some of the most experienced observers of Boston politics said the only thing they could remember remotely like it was the funeral of South Boston congressman Joe Moakley last year ó and that young Honanís unexpected passing made this event even more tragically memorable.

Issue Date: August 8 - 15, 2002
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