You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Breslin celebrated for bringing 'honor' to his press pass

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/22/2017 By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press
Ronnie Eldridge, widow of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrives for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Ronnie Eldridge, widow of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrives for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Generations of New York journalists and political leaders joined Jimmy Breslin's family Wednesday in celebrating the life of the pugnacious Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who championed the downtrodden and battled corrupt public officials for more than five decades.

Deirdre Breslin, left, sister of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrives for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Deirdre Breslin, left, sister of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrives for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Breslin, who died Sunday at age 88, was remembered as a peerless prose stylist whether he wrote about sports stars, gangsters or a bit player in a national tragedy.

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 1991, file photo, author-columnist Jimmy Breslin poses for a photo in New York. Breslin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicler of wise guys and underdogs who became the brash embodiment of the old-time, street smart New Yorker, died Sunday, March 19, 2017. His stepdaughter said Breslin died at his Manhattan home of complications from pneumonia. (AP Photo/Wyatt Counts, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Nov. 5, 1991, file photo, author-columnist Jimmy Breslin poses for a photo in New York. Breslin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicler of wise guys and underdogs who became the brash embodiment of the old-time, street smart New Yorker, died Sunday, March 19, 2017. His stepdaughter said Breslin died at his Manhattan home of complications from pneumonia. (AP Photo/Wyatt Counts, File)

Michael Daly, the Daily Beast correspondent who like Breslin was a longtime columnist at the Daily News, held up a New York City press pass and said, "Nobody ever brought more honor to this pass than he did."

Actor and writer Malachy McCourt, left, accompanied by Kevin Breslin, son of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrive for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Actor and writer Malachy McCourt, left, accompanied by Kevin Breslin, son of journalist Jimmy Breslin, arrive for his funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recalled Breslin's long friendship with Cuomo's late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, dating to 1969 in Queens. He said that if his father were still alive, "He would say Jimmy was an artist and his pen was to paper what Picasso's brush was to canvas."

Matilda Cuomo, widow of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, arrives for the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Matilda Cuomo, widow of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, arrives for the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Cuomo said that as an 11-year-old boy, he found Breslin "just plain scary," echoing remarks by other speakers who described the gruff demeanor that belied Breslin's deep love for his family.

Tony Bennet and his wife Susan Crow leave the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Tony Bennet and his wife Susan Crow leave the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Breslin's son Kevin Breslin surveyed the packed pews at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on Manhattan's West Side and said, "Thank you for coming because I'm not sure he would come here for any of us."

Journalist Bill Moyers leaves the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press Journalist Bill Moyers leaves the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Kevin Breslin recalled the time a neighbor came over to wish his father a merry Christmas and his father responded, "Yeah, kid? What's so merry about it?"

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo arrives for the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) © The Associated Press CNN anchor Chris Cuomo arrives for the funeral for journalist Jimmy Breslin, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Breslin died Sunday, at age 88 after decades of battling corrupt politicians and championing the downtrodden in columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Breslin's widow, former City Council member Ronnie Eldridge, described their marriage in the same church 34 years ago as the union between a Jewish widow with three children and an Irish Catholic widower with six children who "just seemed to get each other."

She said Breslin continued to write tirelessly in his later years although he never understood the internet and had trouble pulling up the latest version of a story on his computer.

"He never wanted to let a day go by without working," Eldridge said.

Breslin wrote more than 20 books as well as countless columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers.

He covered President John F. Kennedy's funeral by interviewing the gravedigger, and he won a 1986 Pulitzer Prize for commentary that included a column that used one man's story to shine a light on the AIDs epidemic.

Other political figures at Breslin's funeral included Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.

But Breslin's closest associates included bookies and bail bondsmen .

A young Kevin Breslin was once hustled to criminal court and instructed to sit in the front row at the arraignment of one of his father's friends, Fat Thomas.

"The judge says to Fat Thomas, 'Excuse me, do you have any family members here?'" Kevin Breslin recalled. "Fat says yes. That was my cue. At that point I waved at the judge. Fat Thomas was immediately released, and everybody thought I did a marvelous job."

Breslin became part of a news story in 1977 when he received several letters from serial killer David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz.

Berkowitz said he found Breslin's column "very informative." Breslin called Berkowitz "the only killer I ever knew who knew how to use a semicolon."

AdChoices
AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon