Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died on Feb. 1 at 88, left the bulk of his estate to his sister and her husband. Koch left his sister, Pat Thaler, $500,000 in cash, along with the rest of his valuables not earmarked for historical archives. Thaler was also appointed executor of his will.
Koch was known for being loyal to those who worked for him, and he certainly proved it by leaving his secretary of 36 years, Mary Garrigan, $100,000.
Court papers listed Koch’s net worth at more than $10.5 million.
Koch never made more than $130,000 a year as mayor, but after leaving City Hall, he cashed in with writing a number of books – including several murder mysteries and a children’s book – and appearing on TV, radio, and working as a lawyer at Bryan Cave LLP.
Koch, a lifelong bachelor, had no children of his own but treated his nieces and nephews like grandchildren. He left his nephew Andrew and niece Joey each $50,000. He also left $50,000 to Gail Koch, his brother Harold’s widow.
The former mayor also gave $100,000 to the La Guardia and Wagner Educational Fund for “creating a program and bearing my name to promote public and government service.”
Koch signed the nine-page will, filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court, on Nov. 15, 2007. He also left a bundle of political memorabilia to the New York Historical Society.
He was buried in Manhattan’s non-denominational Trinity Cemetery. Hating the idea of not being able to spend eternity in the city he loved, in April 2008 he bought his burial plot, stating, “I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I’m gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me.” For the inscription on his memorial stone, Koch requested that the marker bear the Star of David and the words from the Hebrew prayer Shema Yisrael, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” It also is inscribed with the last words of journalist Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by terrorists in 2002: “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.” Koch explained that he had been moved that Pearl chose to affirm his faith and heritage in his last moments. Ironically, Koch died on the 11th anniversary of Pearl’s death.
A documentary about Koch, simply titled “Koch,” was released theatrically on the day he died.
Koch, who was mayor from 1978 – 1989, gave one of his final interviews to The Jewish Voice in August of last year. He looked frail but was sharp and alert as he opined on the upcoming presidential election, Israel, President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, campaign finance reform, his favorite Chinese restaurant, and his Jewish faith.
“I believe in G-d,” he said, “I believe in the hereafter, I believe in reward and punishment, and I expect to be rewarded.”