Mourners remember Whitey Bulger’s former girlfriend Teresa Stanley as a woman who put family first

She was remembered as a mother, a grandmother, a friend to all, who had an unconditional love for those close to her.

Teresa Stanley was once the lead woman in the life of gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, but she was remembered at her funeral Mass Tuesday morning as the woman who always put her family first.

“She was the most beautiful person inside and out, and to me she was reminiscent of a Hollywood glamour girl,” her granddaughter, Colleen Nilan, said at the service at the Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston.

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“Her ability to support her family unconditionally stands out to me.”

Stanley died Thursday of lung cancer at her home in South Boston, surrounded by her family. She was 71.

The South Boston native was 25 and divorced with four children, ages 3 months to 7 years, when she began dating Bulger in the fall of 1966. She spent nearly 30 years with the notorious gangster but refused to leave her family to stay with him on the run in 1995. She had also learned that he had cheated on her, having a relationship with Catherine Greig.

Greig joined Bulger and fled the area.

Bulger, now 82, was arrested with Greig in June 2011, after 16 years on the lam. He is scheduled to go to trial in March in a sweeping federal indictment accusing him of participating in 19 murders.

Greig pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Stanley has testified in court that she was unaware of Bulger’s alleged criminal activities, and that the extent of his alleged crimes, such as the murders of two young women, shocked and sickened her.

On Tuesday, she was remembered only as the woman who was devoted to her family. Nilan noted how Stanley adored fashion and had the looks of a Hollywood star. At the same time, she joked that she was known to move slowly when doing everyday activities: Nilan said she eventually took it as a lesson to appreciate life. Stanley’s favorite song “100 years,” included the line, “When you only got 100 years to live.”

“We can slow ourselves down enough to experience what each day has to offer,” she said. “Even the luckiest people in the world have 100 years to live, so cherish every moment, as Teresa did.”