NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — Hundreds of New Yorkers, including sports figures, journalists and city officials, paid tribute Friday to longtime New York Daily News cartoonist and columnist Bill Gallo at a funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports on Gallo’s legacy

Gallo died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia at age 88.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, a longtime friend and former Marine, like Gallo, recalled meeting the veteran journalist years ago at a Golden Gloves boxing match. Kelly said like the boxers he loved writing about, Gallo had a pugnacious spirit.

“As a newsman, as a Marine, as a man of conscience, Bill Gallo left an indelible mark on his city and his country,” Kelly said during a eulogy. “New York City will go on without Bill Gallo. So will America. But right now, I just don’t see how.”

Gallo profiled the great sports figures of the past century, going back to Jack Dempsey, Man O’ War, Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth, Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson and scores of others.

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Among his most popular cartoon characters were a mocking portrayal of the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in a spiked Prussian military helmet as General Von Steingrabber, and forever loyal New York Mets fans Basement Bertha and Yuchie.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than his caricature of George,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “He really was, and is, a true legend of the city.”

His last cartoon ran in the paper on April 19. It showed Bertha window shopping and hoping to be invited to the royal wedding in London.

“It was a badge of honor to have a cartoon by him,” said Daily News colleague Bill Madden, who called him the “soul of the paper.”

“At least once or twice a month, people like Larry Holmes or Joe DiMaggio would come to his office,” Madden said before the funeral. “They all gravitated to him.”

Boxing writer Bert Sugar said with Gallo’s passing, the city lost “a part of New York.”

Gallo was a World War II veteran, having served in the Pacific, including landing in a foxhole on Iwo Jima where 6,820 of his Marine comrades died. About a dozen Marine Corps reserve unit members attended the Mass. His wooden casket was covered with an American flag.

He is survived by his wife, Dolores; sons Greg and Bill; a brother, Henry; and four granddaughters.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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