They couldn't all make it to Bill Boland's funeral on Friday, but the people whom he helped during his nearly 30 years as head of the Housing Authority wanted to make they paid their respects.
They stood and sat along Ashland Street or under the shade of the porch at the high-rise apartments to watch the hearse bearing his casket pass on its way to Southview Cemetery at noontime.
The high-rise apartments were only a few years old when Boland was named director of the authority, a post he held until retiring in 2003. Boland, who died last Friday at age 72, has been eulogized at the City Council and the Northern Berkshire United Way breakfast for his many good deeds and efforts on behalf of the city's poor, disabled and elderly.
Mayor Richard Alcombright told us earlier this week that he'd come to know Boland when he served on the City Council with Alcombright's late father, Daniel. When the new mayor was seeking advice on appointing people to the Housing Authority board a couple months ago, he went to Boland for advice.
"He told me not to worry about finding people who understood housing," said Alcombright, in a story he'd repeat again. "He told me to get people who understood the need for housing."
Boland certainly understood the need for housing. Not only that, he appears to have understood housing, too. Since his retirement, the Housing Authority's had three directors - and he returned at least once in an interim.