Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Liberal With Sanity: Ed Koch


Edward Irving Koch was born in New York City on December 12, 1924.  He was the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants and was of the first generation of his family born in America.

By the time he graduated from high school, America was embroiled in World War 2. He was drafted into the Army and served in France, where he earned a number of medals for outstanding service.  Following the end of the war, he was sent to Bavaria, where his knowledge of the German language was put to good use.  Koch helped to remove Nazi officials still in office.

After he was discharged from the service, Koch returned home, where he attended the City College of New York.  He'd go on to earn a law degree and open his own firm, helping to reform the politically corrupt Tammany Hall. 

Koch began his political career in 1967, when he was elected to the New York City Council.  From there, he went to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1969 to 1977. That year, he made his first bid for the Mayor's Office, a seat he would hold throughout the 1980s.

In the late 1980s while still in public office, Koch suffered a mild stroke.  It was the first of several health issues that would plague him in his final years, including, most seriously, a heart condition. He ultimately died of heart failure on February 1, 2013.  He was 88 years old.

Koch was laid to rest at Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan.

Rest in peace.

  • A lifelong democrat, Koch referred to himself as "a liberal with sanity."

  • Koch's headstone includes a quote from Daniel Pearl, a Jewish reporter beheaded by Al Qaeda.  "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."

  • President Obama did not attend Koch's funeral, asking former President Bill Clinton to speak on his behalf.

  • Koch never married and had no kids, leading many to speculate about his sexuality.  Although he never declared it himself publicly, the New York Times identified him as a gay following his death.

  • From 1997 to 1999, Koch presided over The People's Court. Check out this episode "What a Drag" featuring drag queen Hedda Lettuce on YouTube.

  • Koch wrote a number of books, including Murder on 34th Street (a whodunit), The Little Red Book of New York Wisdom (published after his death), and Giuliani: Nasty Man.  Pick up your copies at Amazon.

  • Other notable interments at Trinity Cemetery include Law and Order star Jerry Orbach, John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with the Titanic, and environmentalist John James Audubon.

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