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Lima tax foe makes certain of last words on tombstone

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LIMA, Ohio - Bill Metzger will go to his grave raging against the injustice of taxes.

The epitaph he selected: "Here lies the man that has been taxed to death."

Mr. Metzger, a local florist and one-time mayoral candidate, died Sunday of complications from cancer.

"He has always said that. He's always been against high taxes and things like that," his wife, Margaret Metzger, said yesterday. "He never wanted anyone to have to pay more than their fair share."

George Sciranka, manager of The Rose Shoppe, a business Mr. Metzger began in 1967, is certain his former boss and good friend is the only person gutsy enough to put that on his tombstone and mean it.

"He did not like to pay taxes. He felt he could do so much more, that his business could be so much more beautiful if he did not have to pay taxes," Mr. Sciranka said. "He told me once, 'You know when I die I'm going to put, 'Here lies the man that has been taxed to death' on my marker.' I busted out laughing."

When Mr. Metzger died, Mr. Sciranka told Mrs. Metzger that in lieu of flowers, his last - and lasting - gift to his friend would be that marker. She knew what he was talking about.

"He owned a lot of property here and paid taxes on all of it, paid taxes on his business. The more he was making, the more taxes he had to pay. He just got tired of the government getting into his pocket," Mr. Sciranka said.

Mr. Metzger, 67, was one of four candidates in the Lima mayoral primary in 1997. He got the fewest votes - just 266 - but made his fair share of jabs at Mayor David Berger along the way.

"He didn't get along too well with the mayor of Lima," Mrs. Metzger said.

Mr. Metzger's business at the intersection of North Street and Jameson Avenue included a flower shop as well as rows and rows of lawn ornaments.

Among the items those paying their last respects to Mr. Metzger at Harter & Son Memorial Chapel in Delphos will see is a trophy that was presented to him before he died by Range Kleen, Inc., a local manufacturer and customer of The Rose Shoppe.

It's a trophy with a drummer on top that salutes him for being "a unique individual that marches to the beat of his own drum."

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