Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch is remembered as a lawmaker who embodied New York and helped turn the city around during a bleak period. Koch died Friday at age 88. YNN’s Josh Robin reports.
NEW YORK CITY -- He left to the strains of New York, New York and to the adulation of those he served.
"Ed Koch would have loved this crowd," said Diane Coffey, Koch’s chief of staff.
The funeral was a who's-who of New York politicos, even a former president. They packed the pews at Temple Emanu-el to bid farewell, and say thanks, to a leader Mayor Bloomberg deemed the city's Moses.
"Just with a little less hair. He led us out of darkness, and he gave us hope. And while he may not have parted the Red Sea, he did break a subway strike by standing on a bridge and shouting words of encouragement," said Mayor Bloomberg.
Others recalled with laughs vintage Koch stories, usually about how this veteran politician seemed genetically wired to saying the most impolitic things.
"I was marching with him in a human rights parade. And marching with me was the counsel to the Chinese government. Out of the blue, Ed turned to him and said, 'If you would like to defect, I would help you,'” said John Locicero, Koch’s deputy mayor.
Koch was known as the first mayor with his own foreign policy, and never was one to keep his opinions to himself.
"We were told not to speak long - this is not my speech. These are the letters - just the letters - that I got from Ed Koch when I was president," said Bill Clinton.
It wasn't just Mayor Ed Koch who was mourned today. It was also Uncle Ed - who doted on his relatives.
"Not long ago, we attended Cirque du Soleil, where I was introduced to the Clintons. While you, President Clinton, probably don't remember as vividly as I do, I distinctly recall my uncle boasting of my achievements to you, seemingly forgetting that he was speaking to a world leader. The irony was not lost on me, but the sentiment was appreciated," said Noah Thaler, Ed Koch's grand-nephew.
Outside, Koch's casket passed his three successors. An honor guard crisply saluted the mayor, police helicopters cutting the frigid February air.