The Congressional Record takes care of its own, but the print is small and cold. It said of Kenneth P. O'Donnell, "Mr. Speaker, on Friday Sept. 9, 1977, a dedicated public servant died."
"He is best known for the time he served in President John F. Kennedy's administration."
In November, 1963, Kenny O'Donnell walked up Connecticut Avenue from the White House to St. Matthews Cathedral behind the casket of a President he loved and served as top political adviser, and now the memorial service at St. Matthews was for him.
O'Donnell died Sept. 9, at the age of 53 in a hospital in Boston and the funeral was held a few days later.
With the Irish deatsh linger, and maybe it wasn't a bad idea when Francis X. Dooley stood in a cirle of friends outside a Boston funeral home, wearing his PT boat tie clip, and wondered what could be done for the people in Washington who loved O'Donnell but who couldn't make the services in Boston.
For anyone who knew Kenny and for the people he helped, no memory could be small and on a sunny Thursday morning he almost filled the Washington church.
Vice President Mondale came without ceremony, only as a longtime friend wanting to avoid the spotlight and sit quietly through a mass with his own memories of O'Donnell.
No member of the Kennedy family was present - the word being that the service was primarily for the people in Washington who could not make it up to Boston where the Kennedys had figured prominently in the services for O'Donnell.
The politicians came from the Hill, led by House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill. They climbed the wide steps to the cathedral with the same casual tread they used while walking the steps of the Boston tenements to shake a hand, ask for a vote.
But today there was no election campaign. It was Kenny's day and somehow the works. "The Last Hurrah," belonged to another era and for O'Connell new words were needed. As someone said, "Maybe it's the first hurrah."
Any well-run memorial service, especially one involving the Irish, movies from the church to a place where drinks are served and people can talk.In this case it was a few blocks away to the Mayflower Hotel.
It's a nervous time when people talk faster about any subject in the world than about what just happened.
June McCubbins, a public relations person, stood next to the Vice President's station wagon watching the crowd outside the church and said, "I never realized how nice looking the Irish are until you see them all together."
Now that it was over, the solemnity of a Latin mass, no one talked about a lovely voice singing a 16th-century "Ave Maria," or a 20th-century French peice. Instead one groused, "There was no Irish music."
People stood around the Mayflower's China room with glass in their hands remembering what went on in church as though it had been months ago.
"Did you see Duke Ziebert go up to the rail to receive communion?"
It was the second time for Duke. He said, "I received my first Holy Communion at Kenny's funeral in Boston."
Mel Krupin, the table arranger at Duke Ziebert's restaurant said he thought Duke felt it was a free handout.
Former Governor of Ohio Mike DiSalle walked to the reil with Duke and later persuaded him toward the "vigil lights" to light a candle and put a healthy contribution into the box.
O'Donnell's widow, Asta O'Donnell, and four of their children were there, Kenny Jr., Kevin, Helen and Mark. A fifth daughter, Kathleen, was in Texas.
His sister Justine lives in an apartment behing Fenway Park and from a window she can see the scoreboard. She's a Red Sox fan so her view has been very bad lately.
Charlie Roche, who played in the backfield for Harvard when Kenny was the captain of the team, recalled those days.
"It was 1948 and we were playing Yale. I thought I scored a touchdown but the refs said no. We were down about the 2-yard line when Kenny came in. He was wearing a cast and had a broken leg. Give me the ball, he said, and he limped over the last two yards. It was Harvard 19, Yale 7."
These were some of the stories and memories and there are many more - all nice - about a man, as his son, Kevin said, who "never cared about money. All he wanted to do was help people, and that's what I want to do."
People did not want to leave, maybe because they knew it meant the end of an era.
Jim King, a young Boston politician who was once helped by O'DOnnell and is now chairman of the National Transportation Board, may be summed it up when he said, "O'Donnell was the music without the harp."