White -- who served as mayor from 1968 to 1984 -- led the city during one of its most difficult eras, when Boston was beset by conflict over court-ordered busing of public school students to achieve racial desegregation. Boston's downtown and waterfront underwent a major renewal during his tenure.
Mayor Thomas Menino issued a statement Friday saying White "will be sorely missed."
"Mayor Kevin White was a great friend and a great leader who left a lasting mark of hope and inspiration on the City of Boston," Menino said.
Boston City Councilor Mike Ross said White's "ability ability to move Boston forward, in large part due to the creation of Faneuil Hall, is part of the reason for Boston's success today," the Boston Herald reported.
The Boston Globe called White "a larger-than-life presence."
"Amid the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, he adapted and survived, at times reinventing himself," the newspaper said Friday. "From 1968 to 1984, he was chief executive of a fast-changing metropolis, which emerged from economic stagnation and insularity with an explosion of growth downtown. But racial tension during court-ordered school desegregation in the mid-1970s left an indelible mark."