John was a born leader and a highly respected firefighter. He received dozens of awards, including three for bravery, in his 24-year career in The Big House. He shared life lessons and wisdom and looked out for the younger members, never hesitating to take someone under his wing. He brought knowledge and experience to the volunteer Long Beach Fire Department, where he served as captain of Ladder 72 for 15 years. His brothers at FDNY referred to John as a fireman’s fireman. Anyone lucky enough to know him loved him.
On September 12, 2001, John and the members of his firehouse bravely made their way to the pile to assist in recovery efforts after the 9/11 attacks. Even after John was diagnosed with cancer related to his service there, he said he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
In 2015, John was diagnosed with tonsil cancer. He was determined to beat it, and his fight was nothing short of amazing. Despite his strength and courage, the cancer spread to his lungs. On September 11, 2018, the doctor told John the cancer had spread to his brain. Two days later, John had a seizure that put him on life support. Surrounded by his family and loved ones, we said goodbye to our beloved John.
John was the heart, soul, and strength of his family. Their loss was immeasurable. Nuala lost her best friend and the love of her life. Jessica, John, Tommy, and Kristyn lost their rock, their father, their friend. His grandchildren, Sean, Liam, Ashlynn, and Braden will forever keep the memories of Grandpa in their hearts. The younger grandchildren, Johnny, James, and Lily, never got to experience John’s kindness, humor, and love. The kids and the grandkids were his life.
In 2009, John and Nuala retired to Lake Gaston, North Carolina. John loved his life at the lake, especially when the family came down. One of John’s pleasures was cooking and entertaining. He even had a grill on the pontoon. He enjoyed lazy days cruising around on the boat, meeting up with friends on the lake, and quiet days at home working in their three-acre yard. He did everything he could to stop the deer from eating Nuala’s flowers. John loved sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee. He found humor and meaning in everything he did. He was a talented carpenter, loved working in his garage, and wanted to travel the US in his RV. One of his greatest honors was escorting pieces of the Twin Towers to numerous states, proudly riding his Harley with the Fire Riders, the FDNY motorcycle club.
John lived a full and happy life. His family was his greatest joy. He was a hero to his country and to his family.