Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Quintessential New Yorker, Mourned at Manhattan Funeral

Ed Koch was remembered at his funeral as a quintessential New Yorker and colorful mayor with a big brain but a bigger heart who dedicated his life to public service and still found time to be a doting grand-uncle.

"We miss you so much because we all know we're doing a lot better because you lived and served," President Bill Clinton said at the gathering that drew hundreds to Temple Emanu-El Monday.

“No mayor, I think, has ever embodied the spirit of New York City like he did," said Mayor Bloomberg. "And I don’t think anyone ever will. Tough and loud, brash and irreverent, full of humor and chutzpah – he was our city’s quintessential mayor." 

Clinton brought a stack of letters for his remarks -- letters he said he got from Koch when he was president. The letters were about gun control, the Holocaust Memorial, missile defense, anti-smoking programs and political campaigns, among other topics.

"It's not just New York that owes him a lot," Clinton said. 

Remembering Ed Koch: 1924-2013

Koch was also remembered as a doting grand-uncle by several family members. His grand-nephew, Noah Thaler, recalled fond memories of Koch attending elementary school soccer games and getting a manicure with his 11-year-old grand-niece.

Amid all the praise, Mayor Bloomberg told the crowd that "there's no doubt that Ed is beaming."

See the funeral program here.

Koch died Friday of congestive heart failure at the age of 88.

The funeral was held at one of the nation's most prominent synagogues, a Reform Jewish congregation on Fifth Avenue. 

True to his take-charge nature, Koch even choreographed his own funeral. Aware of his impending mortality during his final days, Koch wanted to know everything about the particulars of the event, said Diane Coffey, his former chief of staff.

Coffey said her old boss was grateful when she told him last week that Bloomberg was planning to speak at the service. She said he would have been "over the moon" that former Clinton also spoke.

Coffey said Koch insisted upon being buried in a cemetery "conveniently located near a subway stop" so that New Yorkers could come and visit his grave.

"We began talking about his death in the '80s and his plans for it," Coffey said. "Who else plans every detail of a burial?"

Koch was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery during a private service later Monday. He purchased the plot several years ago; it was the only graveyard in Manhattan that still had space.

"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone," Koch told The Associated Press in 2008. "This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us