The trouble with writing the obituaries of notable people is that you never get to meet them.
Instead, you have to rely on the impressions the person left in the minds of family, friends, and colleagues. You have to dig through musty clips or zip around the Internet looking for traces of the person. Depending on how accurate the records and effusive the mourners, the remnants can be formal, hazy or sharply colorful.
In the case of detective George N. Metz, 72, who died July 11, the deceased fairly leaps off the page. Metz was lively, intrepid, opinionated, good for a bear hug, knew how to pound the pavement, told great stories, and pretty much decided how things were going to be. Then he lived them that way. There aren't too many people who can say that.
Everyone who was asked for remembrances of Metz had to stop first for a good chuckle. "He was one of a kind," and "he was larger than life," and "he was an original," they all said. The story of how he met and married his wife, Anne, is a keeper. So are the reminiscences of Common Pleas Judge William R. Carpenter, who knew Metz when they both worked in the Montco District Attorney's Office. When Metz, retired, all the fun went out of the room, said one co-investigator.
Read more about Detective Metz on philly.com tomorrow and in Friday's Inquirer.