SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

February 2, 2013

Ed Koch, NY's feisty former mayor, dies

(Continued)

“When we were down, Ed Koch picked us up. When we were worried, he gave us confidence. When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them — and, if you remember, he enjoyed it,” Bloomberg said.

A lifelong bachelor who lived in Greenwich Village, Koch championed gay rights, taking on the Roman Catholic Church and scores of political leaders. His own sexual orientation was the subject of speculation and rumors. During his 1977 mayoral campaign against Mario Cuomo, posters that read “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo” mysteriously appeared in some neighborhoods.

Koch offered a typically blunt response to questions about his sexuality: “My answer to questions on this subject is simply, ‘[Expletive] off.’ There have to be some private matters left.”

Koch was also proudly Jewish and an outspoken supporter of Israel.

After leaving office, he continued to offer his opinions as a political pundit, movie reviewer, food critic and judge on “The People’s Court.” Even in his 80s, he exercised regularly and worked as a lawyer.

Describing himself as “a liberal with sanity,” Koch pursued a fearlessly independent course. When President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, Democrat Koch supported him and spoke at the GOP convention. He also endorsed Bloomberg’s re-election at a time when Bloomberg was a Republican.

Edward Irving Koch was born in the Bronx on Dec. 12, 1924, the second of three children of Polish immigrants. During the Depression the family lived in Newark, N.J.

The future mayor worked his way through school, checking hats, working behind a delicatessen counter and selling shoes. He attended City College of New York and served as a combat infantryman in Europe during World War II.

He received a law degree from New York University in 1948 and began his political career in Greenwich Village as a liberal Democratic reformer, beating the powerful old-school party boss Carmine DeSapio in a race for district leader.

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