RIP Ed Koch

BY  |  Friday, Feb 01, 2013 10:37am  |  COMMENTS (9)

Koch2

Photo by Erika Bleiberg

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, whose trademark “How’m I doin?” greeted many a constituent in the 70s and 80s, died this morning at age 88.

Koch led the city from Jan. 1978 through Dec. 1989, a period the New York Times described as encompassing “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.”

Koch loved New York, but he grew up in Newark and in recent years spent some time in Montclair. A film buff who maintained a website devoted to the medium, Koch often patronized the Clairidge Cinema and could sometimes be seen enjoying a frozen yogurt at Red Mango. In 2011, he and his sister Pat appeared at Watchung Booksellers to do a reading of their new children’s book. The reading was arranged in part by Baristanet contributor Erika Bleiberg, who was a family friend of Koch and his sister.

“I met him a few times when I was a child, but had the pleasure of his company these past few years when he and I shared Sunday brunch with my mother and his sister, who are very close long time friends,” she explained.

Pat Koch Thaler and Bleiberg’s mother, Inge Goldstein, live in the same senior community in Pompton Plains, and about once a month Bleiberg would see Koch when they all had brunch together in the community dining room.

“He was always gracious and kind and would shake hands with everyone who came up to him,” Bleiberg said. “He was a special person in that community and would come to help raise money for different causes. He was a real mensch.”

She added that even when he clearly had not been feeling well over the last several months, his mind was still sharp and he would frequently weigh in on political issues, both global and local. Bleiberg recalls a recent discussion after Cory Booker’s announcement that he is considering running for Senate. “He found that interesting,” she said.

Bleiberg took this picture of Koch eating ice cream: “He had a sweet tooth, and a charmingly child-like excitement whenever the servers at Cedar Crest brought him dessert. His pleasure was evident to all around him. I asked him to pose with his ice cream, a few months back. The man lived fully and enjoyed life, that’s for sure.”

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9 Comments

  1. POSTED BY dogmom  |  February 01, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this anecdote, I am so sad to hear of his passing

  2. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  February 01, 2013 @ 11:11 am

    He was a good man. I always liked him.

  3. POSTED BY Erika Bleiberg  |  February 01, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    I will truly miss his company, and I know the residents of Cedar Crest will as well. He has become a beloved fixture there, where many residents are former NYers and metro NJ commuters who were in the city during Koch’s terms. The Sunday dining room will be a little less interesting and colorful without him and his fans weighing in on his famous question “How’m I doing?” In my opinion, whether he’s here on earth or running some city in the hereafter, Mayor Koch will always be the same political rock star he has always been.

  4. POSTED BY crazycat  |  February 01, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    The end of an era. RIP

  5. POSTED BY Conan  |  February 01, 2013 @ 11:47 am

    He managed to manage what was then an unmanageable city, and he managed to manage it very well.

  6. POSTED BY johnqp  |  February 01, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    He lived until he died – may we all be so fortunate. RIP

  7. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  February 01, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    I wonder if Mario Cuomo will release a statement, or Andrew.

  8. POSTED BY cathar  |  February 01, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

    I’d certainly never claim to have known him well, but whenever I did run into him at parties, he always confused me with someone else, who actually wound up working for him. I’d explain and then we’d both have a good laugh. (There was a certain Mr. Magoo-ish air about him at times, in both eyesight and his proactive defensiveness.) He was an effective mayor, far better at governing than Lindsay, Beame and, worst of all, the ever-appeasing and racially slippery Dinkins.

    But I best remember his long-ago struggles to rid what was basically his Congressional district of the truly odious Carmine De Sapio (anyone else recall Koch’s “Village Independent Democrats?”) The guy was a keeper, and to paraphrase what some onlooker at Sir Walter Ralegh’s beheading supposedly yelled out, we have not another such big city mayor to mourn. (Are yoy listenjng, Cory Booker? Ray Nagin? Kwame Kirkpatrick? Maynard Jackson? Whatever utter non-entity holds sway in Camden?)

  9. POSTED BY Erika Bleiberg  |  February 11, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    The Koch documentary is coming to the Clairidge Cinema this week, which is so fitting, since he was a patron of the theater. See y’all there.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umXV52YQOo0

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