Political heavyweights gathered Thursday at Manhattan's Riverside Church to remember former deputy mayor Bill Lynch. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
Family, friends and a who's who of the city's political elite gathered Thursday to say their final farewell to former deputy mayor Bill Lynch. He was heralded as the ultimate behind-the-scenes influence, always working with others to solve problems.
"If you had a problem and you say let Bill handle it, he could push the button to bring the people and the talent to get the problem done," said Congressman Charles Rangel.
"He was our guiding post, he was really an inspiration to us, and he kept us straight, he kept us on a mission," said City Comptroller and Democratic Mayoral Candidate John Liu.
Lynch died last week at the age of 72 from complications related to kidney disease. He was credited with orchestrating David Dinkins' upset victory in the mayor's race in 1989. After that he became a renowned political operative working for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and many others including the Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns.
"Bill Lynch is a linchpin of progressive politics, he was that force that pulled together multiracial coalitions, and was a brilliant change agent and was always relevant," Jackson said.
Lynch helped guide the political careers of some of the city's current leaders too, including John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He was remembered for his famously unkempt appearance and indifference when it came to returning phone calls. But for many that was part of his charm.
"The clothes were rumpled, the tie was stained, he'd leave home without money in his wallet, he'd have to borrow money all the time. But at the same time he was one of the most brilliant people you've ever met," De Blasio said.
"You'd say, 'Bill you didn't call me back,' 'Bill you didn't get this done,' 'Bill you didn't get that done.' And he'd put up that little stubby finger and say, 'But at the end I got it all done.' And he did, he got it done," said Reverend Al Sharpton.
Bill and Hillary Clinton both spoke at the funeral. The former president called Lynch a gift and said he was grateful to have known him.