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Call this space 'thank you notes'

Page 2 of 3 -- Our family has been moved by so many wonderful expressions of sympathy and appreciation for Dad, large and small. They started from the moment word spread that Dad had died. Last Friday, when we gathered at our family home, trying to deal with the shock and unspeakable grief, but also having to deal with the reality of arrangements and such, my cellphone rang. It was Harry Sinden, Rich Krezwick, and Nate Greenberg from the FleetCenter. They offered their condolences and then offered the use of the FleetCenter for any services we might be considering. The call came at a time when we had just begun trying to figure out where we could possibly find a place big enough to accommodate all who would want to pay their respects. Harry said the FleetCenter might not be big enough. After some reflection and prayer, our family decided it was the perfect place. It was, thanks to Krezwick and the staff at the FleetCenter who made it so. Our family will forever be grateful to them for their extraordinary kindness, and for their amazing tribute to Dad.

The celebration of Dad's life at the FleetCenter fittingly brought together a cross section of Will's universe. Our visit from the Governor, the Commissioner, and the Owner was followed immediately by a long line of loyal readers who never met my father but who wanted to express their respect and admiration for him. Many of these people were dressed in the jacket of their favorite team. Nearly all had a tear in their eye. Many of them thanked us for giving them the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. My father would not have had it any other way. Dad would have appreciated their words as much as anything. As others have stated more eloquently than I, he treated everyone the same. He always understood that each of us is the same in the eyes of God.

While each of the thousands of expressions of sympathy and support we have received is much appreciated, some moments from the celebration at the FleetCenter will stay in our memories forever. Our entire family burst into tears when we saw the members of the Charlestown High School basketball team, in their uniform tops, coming through the long line. We knew of Dad's connection to that team. As the team approached us, I was handed a copy of the "Headmaster's Bulletin" from the previous day. Headmaster Michael Fung wrote: "Two years ago after our basketball team won the state championship, Will wrote a nice note in the Sunday Globe about the team. He pointed out that, unlike the suburban school systems, despite the accomplishment of the team no one seemed to care much about these basketball kids. He urged his readers to make contributions to Charlestown High School so that a bunch of urban kids could have a celebration for winning a state championship two years in succession. Within a week we received over $3,000. Many of the contributions came from fans and coaches of teams that we had defeated that year. Will McDonough also personally asked the Celtics to hold a simple reception for the team, in addition to an invitation to a Celtics game. The players had a wonderful time and got to meet with some of the Celtics stars. Will McDonough was a graduate of English High. He was a prominent journalist with great influence. He did not have to do any of these things for a Charlestown High team. But he did, without anyone asking him to, because he liked our team and because he was also a good man. I will miss him." The team used the money to buy championship jackets. When people talk about how my father used the power of his column, this is an example of what I will remember.   Continued...

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