Ed Koch, the three-time mayor of New York, died this morning at the age of 88. A self-described "little Jewish kid," he few years ago he was asked to deliver his own epitaph. This is what he said, as reported by our partner The New York Times:
"He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II. That’s it. It takes up the whole stone."
Born in 1924, he grew up in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Newark, New Jersey. He said he never set out to be a politician, but it was time living in Greenwich Village in the sixties that wired him up politically. In 1968 he was elected to Congress. "I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers," he said.
His 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.
Bob Hennelly is a contributing editor for politics and investigations at WNYC Radio.