Politicians pay last respects to State House doorman

Rhode Island's most famous doorman, who worked at the State House until past his 100th birthday, was laid to rest Tuesday.

Frank DiPaolo was 106 years old. He might be best remembered as a mentor to Patrick Kennedy, when the then-Providence College student began his political career as a state representative candidate in 1988.

At the funeral, lobbyist Rick McAuliffe pointed out that when DiPaolo was born, the median wage in the United States was 22 cents an hour, women were not allowed to vote, and the union had 45 states.

DiPaolo had a varied career including running a restaurant, which is where he met Kennedy. But he was involved in politics long before, having helped in the presidential campaign of Alfred Smith in 1928.

Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, former Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty and North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi were among the more than 100 people who attended the funeral at St. Pius Church in Providence.

Kennedy, who attended with his wife Amy and son Owen, said that DiPaolo was a mentor and example to him.

"He not only laid a base for me politically by helping me out and getting me started in my career but he did something much more foundational for me in my life, and that is give me this unconditional love, and gave me a shot at having a life. And that now I can be a better father and be a better friend to other people because Frank was all of that to me," Kennedy said.

Many spoke of DiPaolo's love for life and the fact he never considered himself elderly. He is survived by a son and two daughters, as well as 15 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and a great-great-granddaughter.