Ed Koch Tombstone Mistake – Wrong Birthdate – To Get Quick Fix

Image: Ed Koch Tombstone Mistake – Wrong Birthdate – To Get Quick Fix Workers at the Trinity Church Cemetery prepare former New York City mayor Ed Koch's gravesite, Friday, Feb. 1, 2012, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 10:02 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The tombstone of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has the wrong birthday engraved on it.

On the tombstone, which stands more than 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, Koch's birthdate reads Dec. 12, 1942, instead of 1924, NBC 4 New York reports.

If true, that would have made Koch in infant during World War II, when in reality he was serving as an infantryman in the United States Army.

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Considering Koch was a stickler for details in both his career and personal life according to those close to him, and that he had sent spent nearly eight months with the engraver preapproving the marker prior to his death in February, the error is a poignant one says his former chief of staff, Diane Coffey.

"Ed Koch used to say, 'it's always important to correct the record, to make sure the record is accurate," Coffey said with a laugh. "There is something ironic about that and he's probably looking down and just chuckling."

According to Coffey, Koch had begun preparing for his death in the 1980s.

"Who else plans every detail of a burial?" she asked.

The engraver, Tommy Flynn, said he inadvertently switched the two numbers and would correct the error within two weeks by filling in the numbers with granite composite and then etching them a second time.

In a recent documentary titled "Koch," the former mayor is seen visiting his gravesite looking down on his tombstone at the Trinity Church cemetery in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood.

At the time of the visit, only his birthdate and date of his death is not engraved.

"I'm not afraid of death, but you have to make preparations," Koch says in the documentary adding, "I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone."

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In addition to designing his own tombstone, Koch also wrote his own epithet which read:
"He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II."

Known for his larger-than-life personality and memorable quotes, Koch died Feb. 1 of congestive heart failure. He was 88.

Related stories

The Ed Koch I Knew — A Remembrance

Remembering Mayor Ed Koch: The Quintessential New Yorker

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