02/04/2013 01:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What If Ed Koch's Father Had Been Turned Back?


As we mourn the passing of larger-than-life mayor, Ed Koch, who loved New York City so much that he spent $20,000 to ensure he would be buried there and never have to leave, it's worth remembering that his immigrant father, Leib (later Louis) Koch, was detained upon arrival at Ellis Island.

For whatever reasons, this furrier from Horodenka, now located in Ukraine, was regarded as potentially "LPC" - likely to become a public charge. In other words, officials feared that he wouldn't be able to support himself. Fortunately, he made it through his special inquiry and was released after just one day on June 19, 1910. Fourteen years later, he welcomed the son who would eventually become mayor of New York City. Imagine the impact if he had been denied entry. Ellis Island inspector, Joseph DiMiceli, who had come to America from Italy a quarter of a century earlier, made the right call that day.