A lasting tribute in memory of the late Senator Bolling
Former Senator Royal L. Bolling Sr. died four years ago, but his
legacy was immortalized last week when his name was emblazoned across
the entrance to Mattapan’s Harvard Commons, a housing development
on the old Boston State Hospital grounds.
The dedication was particularly poignant because the developer is
John B. Cruz lll, a long-time family friend of the Bollings.
The Cruz and the Bolling families grew up three houses apart from
one another on Schuyler Street in Roxbury, and they are considered
to be Bollings’ extended family.
At the celebration were dignitaries and legislators who served with
Senator Bolling, including former Governor Michael S. Dukakis, Senate
President William M. Bulger, Speaker and Attorney General Robert
H. Quinn, Reverend Michael Haynes, state Senator Dianne Wilkerson,
state Representative Shirley Owens Hicks and a host of family and
“It was a natural for us to name the main entrance to Harvard
Commons for Senator Bolling,” Cruz said. “He made so
many contributions that improved the quality of life for this community,
for the city and the state.”
Senator Bolling was patriarch of the “Bolling political dynasty”
which included sons Royal Jr., a former state representative, and
Bruce C., former city council president. The trio made Massachusetts
and national history as the first father and sons to serve in three
different legislative bodies in the Commonwealth.
Bolling Sr. served 12 years in the House of Representatives and
8 years as State Senator. He authored over 200 legislative initiatives,
including the Racial Imbalance law that led to the desegregation
of the Boston public schools. He initiated legislation designating
site selection for Roxbury Community College and secured its initial
funding. He sponsored legislation creating the first funding for
the METCO program.
Thousands of economically disadvantaged students have graduated
from UMass Amherst’s CCEBS program that he developed and funded.
A highly decorated World War II hero, he earned the Silver Star,
the Purple Heart, four Battle Stars and the Combat Infantry Badge
for extraordinary leadership and valor under fire. He was married
for 60 years to his late wife Thelma and was father to 12 children.