Chief Elliott “Eric” Metzger (8/10/60 – 10/27/17) was peacefully welcomed to eternal rest in the early morning hours on the 27th day of October, surrounded by family holding vigil at his rural home. Chief Metzger was a humble servant of the community with a combined 35 remarkable, challenging, and sanctifying years in fire service. He led the town of Flower Mound as its Fire Chief, one of many roles in his progressive service to the town from November of 1986 until his retirement in June of 2014.
His character and unapologetic commitment to the highest personal, professional, and spiritual values led him on a journey for which few men would be capable. Chief saw both devastating and uplifting sides of humanity. He bore witness on our behalf. His leadership was steady and modest, marked by accolades he accepted privately and his Christian faith he professed publicly.
His legacy as Fire Chief is timeless and he touched more people than his family will ever know. Only during his mere six brave, brutal weeks battling cancer did his family learn the true reach of his ministry, as letters flooded in telling stories of selflessness and acts of compassion he kept intimate to his heart: consistent companionship through illness and trauma; grooming young men into successful careers that would define their lives; praying over those lost in tragedies; giving young kids a lecture and a path rather than a fine and a record; sitting quietly as a friend takes chemo; saving irreplaceable mementos from fire; mentoring the wayward; showing grace to the fallen; being a safe place to come home for the prodigal. These acts were how he marked his hours, hours which cumulate into a lifetime, into a legacy.
With even greater devotion, he adored his family. He relentlessly loved his family with a firm hand, high expectations, unwavering devotion, and heart-breaking pride in each of them. A young husband and father, Chief Metzger had a prescient instinct for nurturing those in his nest. He was an instant protector. He endured great hardship as a father. His little girl at only 18 was the victim of a car accident so severe it took a year of recovery; he stood vigil for months and came close to losing her. His son underwent brain surgery to repair a congenital vessel defect, a rare and traumatic surgery. For a second time, he stood vigil.
Any single one of these personal tragedies could have broken a lesser man, but Metzger emerged a stronger father and more loving husband. Softer, more vulnerable, tender, and more faithful than ever before, a Phoenix whose only option after tragedy is to rise. From that moment on, he shared a deeply authentic empathy with the community. It elevated his work from just doing a job to making it a ministry. He learned himself what it feels like to have one’s world fall apart. Such genuine, lived empathy made him a phenomenal public servant to Flower Mound for decades.
God gives some men on earth with the tensile strength to suffer, yet not become embittered or hardened by the unthinkable. Kept at bay those things too hard for lesser men to endure.
This calling, this mantle of “hero”, he carried silently. What he showed the world instead was his perennial love for his bride of 37 years, Janice: his soulmate; his purpose; his true North. In the very definition of heritable joy, he passed the best of himself to his daughter Alison and husband Bill, and their kids London and Asher, Aaron and wife Jacqueline and their son Holden, and his son Ryan with whom he is very close. If he was stoic in his outward life, he was effusive, mischievous, full of practical jokes and dry humor and playful romps with his grandchildren. To them, he is Pops, Popsie-Wopsie, Fire Hose, or whatever they chose to call him.
There is no doubting, Chief Metzger was beloved. Upon his last moments on Earth, he was home, with his bride and his family. East Texas pine trees and the weather chilling. It harkened back to his childhood in the Pacific Northwest. This had been his final wish. Upon his last breath, sleeping soundly, breath more and more shallow until he took the outreached hand of heaven. I can only imagine the Lord embracing him, saying: “Welcome home, faithful one. Your body was weary and broken, but now you are whole. The difficult work you were put there to do, you accomplished on the Lord’s behalf with integrity, resolve, and infinite compassion. You have excelled, son. You have lived well.”
Chief Metzger is survived by: his bride Janice Marie Metzger; daughter Alison Janette Cook and her husband William Buie Cook Jr. and their children London Claire Cook (7) and Asher William Wyatt Cook (5); his dear son Ryan Todd Metzger; son Aaron Troy Metzger and new bride Jacqueline Gimmer Metzger and their son Holden Cooper Metzger (4), along with many beloved pets and farm animals. If you prefer not to send flowers, the family also accepts donations to the Fallen Firefighters Association.
Visitation to honor Chief Metzger will be held: Flower Mound Family Funeral Home, 3550 Firewheel Dr. Flower Mound, on Wednesday, Nov 1st from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A celebration of his remarkable life and legacy will take place at: The Village Church Highland Village Campus, 1700 Highland Village Rd., Highland Village on Thursday, Nov 2nd at 2 p.m.