Bill Clinton to Speak at Koch's Funeral Monday

Clinton interrupted a trip to Japan to return to New York for the funeral

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Preparations are underway for former Mayor Ed Koch's funeral on Monday. Former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among those expected to speak. Brynn Gingras has more on the service being planned. (Published Sunday, Feb 3, 2013)

    Ed Koch is being remembered as the quintessential New Yorker — an admired but tough, colorful former mayor who will be honored at his funeral by former President Bill Clinton.

    At the service Monday morning at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side, mourners will also hear from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Israeli consul general.

    Clinton interrupted a trip to Japan to return to New York for the funeral, according to Koch spokesman George Arzt.

    He said Koch was a friend of both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and was helpful during her successful campaign for the U.S. Senate from New York. Koch also backed Hillary Clinton in her presidential run.

    Bill Clinton will serve as a representative for President Barack Obama at the funeral.

    Koch died Friday of congestive heart failure at age 88.

    The funeral will be held at one of the nation's most prominent synagogues, a Reform Jewish congregation on Fifth Avenue. Bloomberg is a member, as are comedian Joan Rivers and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

    Koch led his city for 12 years, with a brash, humor-tinged style that came to personify the New York of the 1980s.

    The Democratic mayor is credited with helping save New York from its economic crisis in the 1970s and leading it to financial rebirth. But during his three terms as mayor, he also faced racial tensions and corruption among political allies, as well as the AIDS epidemic, homelessness and urban crime.

    In his weekly radio address, Bloomberg called Koch "our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader."

    The mayor said his predecessor's "tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship ... helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback."

    He added, "When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them."

    Koch lost the Democratic nomination for mayor in 1989 to David Dinkins, who succeeded him.

    Koch said he was defeated "because of longevity." In his words, "people get tired of you."

    But as the votes were coming in, he said he told himself, "I'm free at last."

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