By: Glenn Wilburn and Kathy Carvajal
Dignitaries, family, friends and fans of former Mayor Ed Koch gathered to remember the feisty, three-term leader during a funeral service at Temple Emanu-El on Manhattan’s Upper East Side recently.
The wooden casket carrying Koch’s body arrived at the temple draped in the flag of the City of New York. It was brought out of the synagogue at the conclusion of the service to the sounds of “New York, New York” playing in the background.
The service included remarks from his family and friends as well as President Bill Clinton, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Consul General of Israel.
Three of the former mayor’s grand-nephews eulogized their beloved uncle.
“He was like a doting grandfather” who only saw “perfection” in his family, Noah Thayer said.
“No mayor, I think, has ever embodied the spirit of New York City like he did,” Bloomberg said. “And I don’t think anyone ever will.”
He also recalled a conversation he had with Koch had before taking office: “I’ll act like a one-term mayor and I’ll be a three term mayor.”
“We’re better off because you served,” said Clinton, who served as a representative for President Barack Obama at the funeral.
In his weekly radio address the Sunday before the funeral, 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.”
NYPD helicopters conducted a flyover of 5th Ave and East 65th St in honor of Koch’s funeral service.
Temple Emanu-El is one of the nation’s most prominent synagogues, a Reform Jewish congregation on Fifth Avenue. Mayor Bloomberg is a member, as are comedian Joan Rivers and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
The flags of the United States, Israel and New York City were displayed at the funeral.
The consulate general of Israel called Koch’s death a loss for that nation, the Jewish people and all of humanity.
Its statement calls the former New York mayor a “dear friend,” a great leader and a symbol of “everything we love about the world’s greatest city.”
Koch was buried in Trinity Cemetery in Washington Heights in a plot he brought a few years ago. His former chief of staff said Koch wanted a cemetery located near a subway stop so that New Yorkers could come and visit his grave.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.