Mayor Menino rubbed elbows with some big names

Mayor Tom Menino was a man of the people, but he also rubbed elbows with some of the most distinguished in the world.

As head of the city, he welcomed presidents, ambassadors, and dignitaries, all while serving the people of Boston for 20 years.

He played Bocce with Mitt Romney. He kicked off Hanukkah with Governor Deval Patrick and Jewish leaders. He was given counsel from cardinals.

He welcomed presidents to the hub – from Clinton to Obama – and through it all, he remained a man of the people who led a charmed life.

Last year, President Obama landed at Logan on the same day the Red Sox were at Fenway, on the brink of clinching the World Series. Menino gave the president a Red Sox hat. Several hours later, the Sox were World Champions.

Just another day at the office for Tom Menino.

In the mid-90’s, Menino’s political stock rose when President Bill Clinton chose Boston to host a juvenile crime round table.

“Mr. President, you couldn’t have picked a better place in America to hold a discussion of the troubling issues of juvenile crime,” Menino said, at a time when violence and crime was enjoying a two-year drought under his community policing program.

When first lady Hillary Clinton held a program for young people in Boston, Mayor Menino rolled out the red carpet.

Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Kerry could count on Menino to get their message out, and Senator Kennedy knew the man from Hyde Park was always in his corner.

By day, he could be greeting the premiere from China, and at night he’d make sure the homeless were cared for.

He rubbed elbows with celebrities, he stood with actor Ben Affleck for unions, toured a city school with Bill Cosby, and earned an honorary degree from Harvard with Oprah. He even welcomed The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon to City hall.

Mayor Menino let Fallon play his guitar, autographed by Aerosmith.

One tribute for the mayor came from Vice President Joe Biden, earlier this year.

“Tommy, I can tell you one thing. There’s not a single person in here who’s heart you did not speak to, and they reason they heard it, is your heart is as big as this city,” he said.