Born: March 22‚ 1949
Parents: Frank and Christine Grzelak
Sister: Christine Galard
Wife: Joanne Grzelak
Daughters: Kristie and Debra
Joe graduated form Brooklyn Technical High School in 1966 and immediately enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He served in Vietnam from 1968-1969 and was honorably discharged as Sergeant in 1970.
Joe was inducted into the New York City Fire Department on March 24‚ 1973‚ starting his career at Engine 279 in Red Hook‚ Brooklyn. Joe Married his wife Joanne on March 9‚ 1974. He has two daughters‚ Kristie‚ age 26‚ and Debra‚ age 23.
He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1987‚ Captain in 1993‚ and finally to Battalion chief on July 4‚ 1998. Joe worked in many companies throughout his career: Engine 279‚ Ladder 80‚ Engine 282‚ Engine 155‚ Engine 204‚ Battalion 38 and ended his career on 9/11 at Battalion 48 in Brooklyn. During his 28-year career‚ he received two citations for rescues. Many times we have heard from firefighters how he was a ‘firefighter’s chief’ always looking out for his guys.
Joe’s body was recovered on March 23‚ 2002‚ by the last standing beam of Tower 2.
He was a ‘trivia buff’‚ often amazing family and friends with his knowledge. He earned the nickname ‘Joe Knows’ from his fellow firefighters because he knew the answer to most questions asked of him. He was also a veracious reader‚ absorbing every bit of information he read‚ whether it be from a newspaper‚ research article or a Tom Clancy book.
Joe was a sports freak and loved the NY Yankees and NY Giants. He also enjoyed watching auto racing. Recently‚ he started to take up golf and‚ at the time of his death‚ was still bowling and playing softball once a week. In fact‚ both leagues changed their names to his in memoriam. Joe also enjoyed teaching softball‚ coaching his daughters’ teams growing up‚ and winning a championship.
Joe was not only a loving and caring husband and father‚ but also a loyal friend and dedicated firefighter who loved life. He will forever remain in our hearts.