On March 23‚ 1972‚ Demetrios and Olga Pappageorge welcomed James Nicholas to the world. Raised in Jackson Heights‚ Queens‚ he attended day school at the Transfiguration of Christ Elementary and went on to Newtown High School. Having been deeply involved in a variety of sports since childhood that included volleyball‚ softball and football‚ Jimmy went on to pursue a career in physical therapy at Hunter College.
His fascination for adrenaline-driven outdoor adventures led him to what would be the beginning of his life long passion of highflying rescue and emergency medicine. In 1993 Jimmy became an EMT and began his career at countless volunteer and private ambulance companies. In 1995 he joined the FDNY EMS Division. He went to LaGuardia Community College where he graduated as a paramedic in 1999. Jimmy had a genuine compassion for humanity. He would give his undivided attention to his patients and made them feel truly valued and comforted no matter what age‚ income status (or lack thereof) or color.
Jimmy set another goal–to become a NYC Firefighter on February 4‚ 2001. He endured the academy’s discipline in the hopes of becoming a part of a lifelong brotherhood. On July 23‚ 2001 Jimmy successfully graduated the FDNY Academy. His new home was Engine Co. #23‚ located in Midtown Manhattan. Jimmy was so excited and eager to learn about everything from the men in his company. When Jimmy and I would get together he would always have something new to tell me about his new friends/family from the firehouse. I saw the love and passion he had about being a NYC Fire Fighter in his eyes and the respect he had for the boys at Engine Co. #23.
Jimmy would tell me stories of what went on and especially how he would take care of his Captain. I can remember when Jimmy came over one weekend and started telling me about Captain Bendick and his high blood pressure problem. I immediately knew that Captain Bendick would be in good hands because he had my brother watching over him. He welcomed challenges and liked to learn‚ progress and move on to bigger and better things. He would eventually leave a short but remembered legacy of friendship‚ professionalism and courage. Six weeks later on 9/11 he did just that. He made the ultimate sacrifice‚ his life to save others. He left a Hero.
As a dedicated paramedic‚ Jimmy loved driving the ambulance at a high rate of speed. So he would rush to jobs to be there first even if it wasn’t assigned to him because he knew he was able to save someone’s life. If Jimmy was able to work 24 hours a day he would. He had all kinds of emergency equipment in the trunk of his private car.
Jimmy loved to hear all types of music from classical (like his father) to rock and roll and Latin music. He loved to take pictures. He loved playing sports and he loved weight lifting. It amazed me to see that Jimmy had so much self-control and was able to structure his body to whatever form he desired. He just did it. My brother was great at anything he put his mind to. But he was not just physically adept; he was highly intellectual also. He kept up with his studies regarding medicine and fire by buying all the latest books.
Jimmy had the good fortune of growing up with a wholesome‚ fun and inseparable group of kids. His friends‚ and their parents‚ made his childhood a safe and happy one‚ sheltered in a way from the perils of the street. They became lifelong best friends/family and despite not seeing each other as much as adults‚ it was as if time had stood still when they got back together. Throughout the years‚ they laughed‚ cried and shared dreams and endless memories. The 95th Street gang was and still is one big loving family.
Despite his wild side he displayed at work and muscular exterior he was a family man at heart just like his mother. He loved his fianc_e Gina very much and was a father figure to her son Justin‚ who I love deeply as my own nephew. Jimmy and Gina’s love for eight years bonded them not only as a couple but as the best of friends. They learned to love each other with respect and their three hearts were combined as one. Jimmy was POP to Justin who looked up to him for guidance. Jimmy coached Justin and his friends through Little League baseball‚ soccer‚ and basketball. Justin’s friends thought he was the coolest. They are our family. He cherished whatever moments he got with them because of his hectic schedule as a paramedic and as a firefighter. They were to celebrate their eight years of love with a wedding in September of 2002.
Jimmy loved his family very much. He was very much like his mother‚ a dedicated hard-working person throughout her life‚ who preferred quiet moments at home. He learned the value of life and all the responsibilities that comes along with it from his father. As adults they became the best of friends. This was shortened due to my dad having a massive stroke and perished in April of 2000. Jimmy and I (sister) shared everything as children and then as adults. We had an amazing bond that will never be broken. We were both very proud of each other and the accomplishments we made in life.
Firefighter James N. Pappageorge Badge #3322 Engine Co. #23
Your heart and soul were pure and beautiful. You were born a Hero whose courage and strength shined when you sacrificed your life to save others on 09-11-01 without hesitation. My friend‚ my Hero‚ My Angel who I and everyone else will love and treasure forever. You are truly loved and deeply missed. So sweet dreams with daddy‚ I will be with you someday again. I know I will see your beautiful face when it’s my turn to find the light.
With all my love‚ Your sister Helen Pappageorge