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In memory of Kathryn White, an advocate for Boston's elderly

May 3, 2017

Kathryn White, first lady of Boston from 1968 to 1984, passed away on May 1.

Here at the City Archives, we remember Kathryn White for her advocacy for Boston’s senior citizens.

Kathryn White visits Elderly Commission Valentines Day event in Charlestown
Born and raised in Charlestown, Kathryn Galvin White grew up in a family known for its civic and community engagement. Her mother worked with special needs youth while her father managed Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market and served on the Boston City Council for four years.  

While studying social work at Newton College of the Sacred Heart, she met and fell in love with a Boston College Law School student named Kevin White.  They married in 1956.

Kathryn White visits Elderly Commission Valentine's Day event in Charlestown

During her husband’s tenure as Mayor of Boston, Kathryn White became active in the City’s Elderly Commission. She advocated for more services for the elderly, including transportation to hospitals and hot meal delivery.  In 1979, in addition to acting as first lady, she took a part-time job consulting for Boston University Medical Center on issues involving the elderly.   Evidence of Kathryn’s advocacy for Boston’s seniors is found in her husband’s mayoral records, which are held by the City Archives.  For example, these photographs, taken in 1975, show Kathryn White visiting a group of elderly Bostonians in her native Charlestown on Valentine’s Day.

Kathryn White visits Elderly Commission Valentine's Day event in Charlestown

To learn more about the Kevin White administration and Kathryn White’s involvement in the city’s Elderly Commission, visit the Guide to the Mayor Kevin White records.