BOSTON -- Kevin H. White, a four-term mayor who led Boston through years of racial violence and economic stagnation and was credited with putting the city on a path to prosperity, has died. He was 82.

White, who had Alzheimer's disease, died Friday night at his Beacon Hill home.

An Irish Catholic from a family of politicians, White is credited with revitalizing Boston's downtown and seeing the city through court-ordered busing, but he ended his tenure in 1983 under a cloud of ethics suspicions.

The Democrat was Massachusetts secretary of state when he first ran for mayor, in 1967 against antibusing activist Louise Day Hicks. He defeated her with support from the black community and liberals.

After losing a 1970 bid for governor, White was re-elected mayor in 1971, again defeating Hicks. He won again narrowly in 1975 and 1979.

After U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity ordered busing to desegregate public schools in 1974, White protected schoolchildren from ensuing violence with federal and state assistance during the period of crisis and in 1976 led a march of 30,000 to protest racial violence.

White was never totally comfortable with busing, however, and called Garrity's plan "too severe."

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said White "knew how to wisely wield the power of the mayor's office for the public good." "For 16 years," Kerry said in a statement, "the mayor shepherded the city through the turbulence of the late '60s and mid-'70s and in the process ushered in the remarkable city we know today."

During the second half of his tenure as mayor, seven aides were indicted on fraud and extortion charges; some officials were convicted. White was never implicated, but the State Ethics Commission conducted a 10-month investigation that found "reasonable cause" that White had violated conflict-of-interest laws.

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