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Thomas White, Jr. honored at funeral

Hundreds were on hand at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica on Thursday, September 2 to say goodbye to a colleague, a mentor and a friend.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Reverend Al Sharpton were just a few of those that spoke about the life of Councilmember Thomas White, Jr., 71, who died on Friday, August 27 after battling cancer.

“Usually funerals are always sad, but Tom was not a sad guy. I don’t think I ever met him when he didn’t have a big smile on his face,” said Bloomberg. “He would want us to smile, to say some good things about him, and then get out there this afternoon and make this city, this country and this world a better place.”

Members of White’s staff, fellow councilmembers and those whose lives were affected by J-CAP – a Queens non-profit agency which provided residential drug treatment and primary care programs for people affected and infected with HIV/AIDS as well as a teen parenting program for young men and women – filled most of the pews and had their own chance to stand and be recognized. His family – mother Marie, former wife Brenda, son Bryan, daughter Lucille “Precious” and his grandsons sat in the front of the Church that White attended mass in for years.

“He was smart, compassionate and always a pragmatist for his communities. He knew how to work within the system and how to find real achievable solutions,” said Speaker Quinn.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio read aloud a letter from former Mayor David Dinkins who knew Thomas White well.

“Tom was a fine public servant who touched many lives not just through his calling to public service but through the generosity of spirit,” Dinkins wrote. “He was a good man who loved life and the people of New York and he will be missed.”

Also speaking were State Senator Malcolm Smith who reflected on White as a religious man and Congressmember Joseph Crowley who stated he brought the issues of the 28th district downtown instead of the other way around.

“When Tom gave you his word, there was no looking back,” said Crowley.

Al Sharpton began his statement by publicly thanking the White family for sharing Tom with the community at large and jokingly commenting how Reverend Dr. Floyd H. Flake’s eulogy would be one of the easiest speeches he would ever make due to the amount of material Tom’s life provided.

“Tom believed in making a broken community come back together again,” said Sharpton. “He helped people recover whose family has turned their back on them . . . he played his role.”

It was a day of mourning but also a day to celebrate the life of a man who saw potential where there was despair.

 

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