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“You are entitled to your opinion of me and I am entitled to my opinion of you,” Koch replied. “My opinion of you is that you are a fool.”
His nephews and grand-nephew and grand-niece remembered Koch, who never married, as devoted “Uncle Eddie” - eager to hear what they thought of his appearances on talk shows but also happy join his 11-year-old grand-niece for a manicure.
Clinton read from a stack of letters Koch had sent him over the years and said Koch had “a big brain, but he had an even bigger heart.”
Koch remained relevant in politics long after 1989, when he lost the Democratic nomination to David Dinkins for what would have been a record fourth term as mayor. But when asked if he would run for office again, he liked to say, “The people threw me out and the people must be punished.”
His endorsement was coveted by candidates decades after he left office. And his unwavering and loud support of Israel made Koch “one of the most influential and important American Zionists,” said former Ambassador Ido Aharoni.
At Monday’s memorial, Bloomberg noted the synagogue Koch had chosen for the funeral stood just a few blocks from the midtown bridge that had been renamed to honor him. Last year, the city released a video of Koch standing at the bridge’s entrance ramp, calling out to approaching cars: “Welcome to my bridge! Welcome to my bridge!”
“No mayor, I think, has ever embodied the spirit of New York City like he did. And I don’t think anyone ever will,” Bloomberg said. “Tough and loud, brash and irreverent, full of humor and chutzpah - he was our city’s quintessential mayor.”