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Gravestone of late Mayor Koch had birth date wrong

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Mayor Ed Koch was 88 years old when he died in February, despite what his gravestone said.

A worker at the Trinity Cemetery in Manhattan noticed last week that the gravestone's inscription shaved 18 years off the mayor's life after a stonecutter transposed two digits in his birth year, a Trinity spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The correct year of 1924 was mistakenly carved as 1942, she said.

"It was a simple human mistake," said Tommy Flynn, owner of Flynn Funeral & Cremation Memorial Centers, which worked with Koch to create his funeral monument. "Did you ever write a phone number down wrong?"

Flynn said he was horrified to get the call from the cemetery alerting him to the error.

"I've had better days," he said, adding that the inscription had been re-engraved. The stone has been in place for several years since Koch bought the burial plot, but the inscription of the dates was only added last week.

George Arzt, a long-time spokesman for Koch, said the late mayor's family and friends were unperturbed by the mistake but added that he could not say the same for Flynn.

"He was beside himself in embarrassment over the error," Arzt said.

Koch, however, known for his love of the spotlight, would have enjoyed being back in the news, he said.

"He would have also said, ‘I want the record corrected!'" Arzt said, mimicking Koch's distinctive New York accent.

"He was proud of his age, so he's probably having a good chuckle," Arzt said.

Koch, a native of the Bronx, was mayor of New York City from 1978 until 1989. His trademark question to New Yorkers was "How'm I doin'?"

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

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