Captain Frank A. Portelle was a member of the FDNY for 24 years. He was more than a great fireman. He was a dedicated family man, mentor, friend, and an inspiration to all that loved and knew him. When he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center, he didn’t hesitate and reported to his firehouse at the time, Engine 22/Ladder 13 in Manhattan, where he spent the next few months at Ground Zero digging and searching for nine members of his firehouse that lost their lives that day.
In April of 2020 Frank was diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer. As with anything he did, he fought a tremendous fight with dignity and grace. Unfortunately, he passed away on March 13, 2021, leaving behind his wife of 22 years, Jeanine, and his daughter, Valerie, who was the light of his life.
Frank was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. He was a self-made man who put himself through culinary school; his studies took him abroad to Italy, Spain, and France. He was on his way to becoming an accomplished chef when he got called to the FDNY in 1996. He began his career as a firefighter at Engine 228 in Brooklyn and spent the majority of his career at Ladder 13 in Manhattan. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2011 and assigned to Engine 50 in the Bronx; in 2018, he was promoted to captain. Frank was a well-respected firefighter and boss. Frank took great pride in all his accomplishments, yet he was always humble and never boastful.
Family and friends that knew Frank remember his infectious laugh that could not be mistaken. He was the life of the party—first to arrive, last to leave. He loved good food, working in the yard, and starting another home project. He was the first to lend a hand in any way he could, spending countless good times with his family and friends. If he wasn’t doing any of those things, he could only be found in one place, and that was on the golf course, where he especially loved playing with his daughter.
Over the years, Frank and his girls were so blessed to be able to take many vacations, which he treasured more than anything else. In the months leading up to his death, he seemed to be at peace and relished the times spent with his family and friends. He was a true man of dignity and never once complained about his diagnosis, nor going through treatments. Everyone is forever better for having been lucky enough to have known Frank.