teddy kollek 88.
(photo credit: )
Following his election defeat at the hands of a young Likud legislator named Ehud Olmert in the 1993 Jerusalem mayoral race, Teddy Kollek left the new city hall, over which he had overseen construction, but continued to work for Jerusalem for the next decade, until infirmity cast him out of the public light.
He was named international chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation he founded 40 years ago and took up full-time work there, focusing on raising money for development and education projects in the city.
He continued to travel abroad to solicit money for Jerusalem, making about 10 trips in his mid to late 80s, even when confined to a wheelchair, said Michal Goshczini, who served as his office manager at the foundation.
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Over the last decade, the former mayor would also meet with dignitaries and delegations that came to Israel and would frequently take them to the city's Biblical Zoo, which became his pet project in the last years of his life, Goshczini said.
After a four-day work week at the Jerusalem Foundation, he would spend the fifth weekday working out of his office in the Israel Museum, where he held the title of honorary president.
He felt that his successors in city hall did not have the same vision as he did but refrained from criticizing them in public, said longtime friend Dr. Martin Weyl, former director of the Israel Museum.
Weyl said that Kollek was deeply disillusioned when he was not reelected, and felt that the citizens of Jerusalem did not appreciate what he had done in his more than quarter-century term as mayor.
Nevertheless, Kollek remained active in soliciting funds for Jerusalem, and would raise money for community centers, parks and orchestras, and an array of cultural activities, while always keeping his strong affinity for the Israel Museum.
"He knew the government and the city were poor and he thought that it should be a privilege for world Jewry to donate to the city," Weyl said.
Privately, during car rides throughout the city, the ever-opinionated Kollek would make various asides to his aides: More green was needed here. More focus was needed on education. The city was too dirty.
In 2003, Kollek made a rare if fleeting reentry into the local political fray by quietly endorsing Nir Barkat in the last Jerusalem mayoral race, telling The Jerusalem Post that the city needed someone who was "both apolitical and above politics."
"One of the most important things needed today in Jerusalem is economic development, and employment for the city's youth," Kollek said at the time, adding that the former hi-tech entrepreneur could "breathe new life in the city".
Barkat would go on to lose the election to Uri Lupolianski, who had previously served as a deputy mayor for a decade under both Olmert and Kollek.
As Kollek became increasingly infirm over the last few years, he moved out of the third-floor walkup city apartment he lived in with his wife Tamar and into a retirement center.
About a year ago, he stopped coming to his office due to his poor health.
Weyl said that as Kollek's health deteriorated, he became increasingly frustrated that he did not contribute anymore to society - which for him was to Jerusalem - and felt that people did not want to hear his views anymore.
"He felt that the leadership did not care enough about Jerusalem," Weyl said.