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Neighbors, Aides Remember Mayor Koch’s Indomitable Spirit

Mayor Ed Koch

Ed Koch as mayor in the 1980s. (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Ed Koch was known as the quintessential New Yorker, and left a lasting impression.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, one man put it exactly as many New Yorkers felt – “If you thought about New York City, you thought about Ed Koch.”

For a man who once said, “I want to be mayor forever,” Koch knew he was mortal, and was prepared to die.

The three-term mayor was remembered Friday afternoon in a Times Square zipper, at the heart of the city and the crossroads of the world.

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“What I liked, as he put it, was his chutzpah,” said neighbor Marilyn Diwrow. “He never held any punches and told it as it was.”

Born in the Bronx, Koch was a man of the people who famously asked New Yorkers for their evaluation.

“I miss him. He was kind of a nut, and that’s what I liked about him,” said neighbor Howard Bader. “That’s what New York is, and Greenwich Village is. It’s a nutty place.”

As a young lawyer, Koch became a four-term Congressman, later describing himself as a “liberal with sanity.”

CBS News “48 Hours” executive producer Susan Zirinsky worked for Koch as an congressional intern, remembering him as elflike, joyous and adorable.

“You might look at Ed Koch and not use the word. ‘adorable,’ but I looked at Ed Koch and I used the word, ‘adorable,’ because of his personality,” Zirinsky said.

For the last 25 years, Koch lived here in the heart of Greenwich Village

“He was a politician through and through,” said neighbor Lucinda Webb. “I met him first in 1961.”

One mayoral aide remembered Koch coming back on a police launch from the Statue of Liberty, reflecting on his role as mayor of New York

“I said, ‘You OK, your honor? And you could see tears in his eyes,” said former mayoral aide Tom Kelly. “And he just looked at me and he said, ‘I wonder what my mother would think.’”

Kelly, who worked for the mayor for six years, says there was a sensitive side. He remembered going with the mayor to police and fire funerals.

“To no one in particular in the car, he would just say, ‘How does that family go on?’ How does that boy live without his father? How does that girl live without her father; that poor woman with no husband and three children?” Kelly said. “It was a side that he rarely showed, but you knew it was him.”

Slattery himself described Koch as an urban cheerleader. He recalled during the water shortage of the 1980s, the mayor urged water conservation in toilets, telling New Yorkers: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

Please leave your memories of Mayor Koch below…