Eight days after Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter’s sudden death at 62, his body lay in state in the City Hall rotunda on Thursday as thousands of residents paid their respects.
A long line snaked through the building, out its doors, and down the street early Thursday afternoon, according to Darren Duarte, a Brockton police spokesman and Carpenter’s former chief of staff.
By 1:15 p.m., 2,000 or more people had already passed through, he said. The viewing hours were from noon to 6 p.m.
“I’m sure he would appreciate the support that the folks are showing him,” Duarte said by phone Thursday. “People of all races and nationalities have come here to pay their respects to Mayor Carpenter, because he was a mayor known to bring people together.”
Duarte said some mourners were visibly weeping, while others were celebrating Carpenter’s life and reconnecting with old friends who had also come to express their grief.
Duarte first met Carpenter when the mayor attended Duarte’s mother’s funeral, he said, and the mayor quickly impressed him with his dedication to the city and its people.
“I don’t know how anyone could surpass his work ethic. He worked so much,” Duarte said. “He was up at 3:30, 4 o’clock in the morning texting, making calls, making sure that the city was running and making sure that all of us stayed on point.”
A public memorial service for Carpenter will be held at 11 a.m. Friday inside the Brockton High School auditorium, and a funeral procession will pass by City Hall at 10:30 a.m. Monday before a private burial, according to Russell & Pica Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements.
Members of the public are invited to gather at City Hall Monday morning for a final farewell to Carpenter, who died last week after being found unresponsive in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Arnone Elementary School and rushed to Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office said no foul play is suspected.
In the wake of Carpenter’s sudden death, the three-term mayor was lauded as a transformative figure in Brockton. Carpenter sought a seat on the school committee after his son became addicted to heroin while a high school student. He went on to run for mayor, becoming a leader in efforts to address the opioid crisis.
“The impact of the opioid epidemic is what got me into politics,’’ Carpenter said. “I have experienced firsthand what the collateral damage is like within a family. ... We’ve tried to be a leader in every way that we can in helping families battle this public health crisis.”
At Carpenter’s insistence, all first responders in Brockton began carrying naloxone, which can almost immediately reverse the effects of an overdose. In recent years, Brockton has experienced a decline in opioid-related deaths, from 49 in 2017 to 34 in 2018 among city residents, and from 71 to 51 among nonresidents who died while in Brockton.
“His indefatigable and infectious approach to governing had created unprecedented momentum and urban renewal in the city’s downtown,’’ Carpenter’s administration wrote in a statement announcing his death. “The mayor was a nationally recognized innovator in substance use treatment, and was also recognized nationally for his advocacy in funding for public education.”