For longtime East Boston politicians like John Nucci former State Rep. Michael D’Avolio was a man many aspired to be.
“For us growing up in East Boston who got involved in politics at an early age, men like Michael D’Avolio were rock stars who could rally 500 people at the drop of dime around any cause,” said Nucci. “Rep. D’Avolio, George DiLorenzo, Mario Umana, these guys were larger than life at a time in the neighborhood’s history when you needed voices to be strong, passionate and committed to the betterment of East Boston.”
Mr. D’Avolio, who served three terms in the House of Representatives in the 1960s during the height of Logan Airport expansion, died on Friday, March 9 surrounded by his family. He was 92 years old.
“Mike was an eloquent and learned gentleman,” said Nucci. “Yet when it came to airport expansion he fought as hard as anyone and he never forgot where he came from. He made East Boston proud to call him our state representative. He was so well-spoken and articulate.”
During Logan Airport’s expansion into the Neptune Road neighborhood, Mr. D’Avolio emerged as the opposite of the more bombastic state representatives at the time.
While beloved former Rep. George DiLorenzo was known for crashing his car through fences and getting arrested for civil disobedience during the fight against airport expansion, Mr. D’Avolio was a more cerebral with the ability to carefully and effectively put forth an argument with eloquence that was unmatched in the street politics of the time.
“No one was better or tougher at arguing for the citizens’ rights here in Eastie,” said Nucci. “Whether it was the airport or something else, Mike always did his homework and came armed with facts. But is was his disarming nature and passion about an issue that made him so effective.”
Mr. D’Avolio was raised in East Boston and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.
After the war he attended Suffolk University and Suffolk Law School where he earned his law degree. After serving as East Boston’s state rep, Mr. D’Avolio was later appointed as director of corporations under Secretary of State Jack Davoren.
Mr. D’Avolio opened his own law practice on Meridian Street, and for five decades, the office became a beehive of activity as he helped friends, neighbors and old supporters from his political days.
“He came to the office everyday up until a week before he died,” said longtime partner Anna DiMaria, who was part of his successful law practice. “People often asked me if there was another side to Michael, and the answer has always been ‘no.’ The sweet, humble man you always saw is the man he was. I never heard him raise his voice or curse. He treated everyone so beautifully and was always ready to help anyone who needed help.”
Later in life Mr. D’Avolio and DiMaria became regular fixtures at political fundraisers, Chamber of Commerce events and other community celebrations.
“He truly loved this neighborhood and the people in it,” said DiMaria. “I swear he did more pro bono work for residents here than the Pro Bono Department. He always made time for everyone and never refused anyone.”