NEW YORK—Thousands of friends and family attended the funeral of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch on Monday. The ceremony took place at Temple Emanu-El, the largest synagogue in New York City. Koch died of congestive heart failure at the age of 88 on Feb. 1.
The speakers at the funeral service recalled Koch as genuine, direct, and kind.
Noah Thayer, Koch’s grandnephew recalled that despite being constantly busy, his granduncle found the time to watch his chess and soccer games. Thayer recalled a moment when the 87-year-old Koch went with his niece to get the first manicure in his life.
Former President Bill Clinton brought a stack of letters written to him by Koch during Clinton’s presidency. Koch implored the president take action on issues like gun control, crime prevention, and anti-smoking, among others. A prevailing theme in Koch’s letters was an urge to give young people who have committed crimes a second chance and to give disaffiliated youth a chance to reconnect with mainstream society.
“He had a big brain, but he had a bigger heart,” said Clinton.
Koch served three terms as the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. He lost the election for his fourth term to David Dinkins, but remained an active public figure, writing books, starring in movies, and more. Koch was a prominent supporter of Israel.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg remembered a moment during a freezing winter day when Koch stood on the 59th Street bridge just named after him yelling, “Welcome to my bridge!” The news crews loved it, but Koch kept on yelling 20 minutes after the cameras stopped rolling.
“No mayor I think has ever embodied the spirit of New York City like he did, and I don’t think anyone ever will,” Bloomberg said.
To Bloomberg, Koch was “tough and loud, brash and irreverent, full of humor and hutzpah.”
“He was our city’s quintessential mayor.”
Koch will be buried at Trinity Cemetery. He bought a plot there when he found that it was the last one available in New York City. He said that he could not stand the prospect of being buried in New Jersey.
Koch had his headstone engraved with, “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish,” the last words uttered by Daniel Pearl, a Jewish American journalist, before his execution in Pakistan. Coincidentally, Koch and Pearl died on the same date. Koch’s death also occurred on the same day as the documentary on his life opened in theaters.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.