NEW YORK (AP) _ Author Theodore H. White was eulogized Tuesday as a lover of the human race, a patriot and a tireless reporter whose life was devoted to finding the truth and explaining it.

''Did Teddy White ever find the history he spent his life in search of?'' asked Blair Clark, former editor of The Nation magazine. ''Of course not. ... But he came close, very close. Didn't he?''

Hundreds attended the service for White at Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue.

The author, who changed political reporting with his ''Making of the President'' books, died of a stroke Thursday at age 71.

''With a heart so big, it finally overwhelmed his brain and exploded. And finally, mercifully, it stopped,'' said his friend, journalist Richard Clurman.

Heyden White recalled her father as a man who liked to imagine himself a favored courtier of Louis XV - so close to the French king that he called the monarch ''Quinze,'' or 15.

She recalled also that whenever her father left a message on her answering machine, it would take two or three times as long as usual to rewind. ''He liked to think out loud on the machine, where no one could interrupt him.''

He was, said Clark, ''the most lovable of men. He never held a grudge. He was incapable of hatred.''

White himself said it best when he described himself as ''soft on the human race,'' Clurman said. ''He gave pieces of himself to everyone who came into his wide embrace. ... He never let anyone go.''

Others remembered White's writings. John K. Fairbank, the China scholar who was White's tutor at Harvard - ''I taught him for two years and learned from him for 40'' - said White's reporting on China set in motion American recognition of the Chinese revolution.

And Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., said all of White's work could be considered a meditation on ''the balance of liberty and order.''

''No institutions could he love more than those of the American democracy. His gifts of love are those magisterial volumes on the making of the president,'' Moynihan said.

Those attending included New York Times executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, Washington Post Co. chairman Katharine Graham, television newsmen John Chancellor, Morley Safer and Eric Severeid, writers Art Buchwald and Gay Talese, former Mayor John Lindsay and former national Democratic Party chairman Larry O'Brien.