Larger than life, Frank Rizzo still a presence 20 years after his death

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the death of one of Philadelphia’s most controversial leaders.

Frank Rizzo Sr. died in 1991 while campaigning to again become mayor of Philadelphia. Two decades later, there are still services marking his death.

Hank Cisco, who was a pall bearer at Rizzo’s funeral, said the former mayor had an electricity.

“He had a personality. Not too many people had the charisma that he had. He could walk into a room and the room lights up,” Cisco recalled.

Even so, Rizzo had plenty of detractors. Cisco said he knew it.

“What do they say? All sunshine makes deserts, well he was lightning, he was thunder, he was rain, he was warm,” said Cisco. “If you want a beautiful garden, you have to have all kinds of weather like that.”

Cisco says there will be a motorcycle ride from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Montgomery County where Rizzo is buried to the statue of the late mayor at the Municipal Services Building in Center City.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal