Roll of Honor

Leon  Smith Jr.

Leon Smith Jr.

  • Firefighter
  • Fire Department City of New York
  • New York
  • Age: 48
  • Year of Death: 2001

Leon Smith‚ Jr.‚ was born July 14‚ 1953‚ in Brooklyn‚ New York to proud parents‚ Irene and the late Leon Smith‚ Sr.

He began his early education in the public school system. He continued on to Borough Hall Academy Junior High School and Queens Day Preparatory High School. He attended Gannon College in Erie‚ Pennsylvania‚ where he performed on both the basketball and soccer teams. He later transferred to Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn‚ where he majored in Business Management.

Prior to his being appointed to the FDNY on February 27‚ 1982‚ Leon had appointments with the NYCDOT and the NYC Department of Sanitation. He was also employed as a mental health therapist.

Leon loved helping others and knew by the early age of nine that he would become a fireman. He was often chastised for disappearing from the park‚ only to be found hanging out at the local firehouse near his family’s home. His father urged his mother to just let him be‚ stating At least you know he’s safe there.

He was always caring and giving‚ once even giving his winter coat to a classmate who didn’t have one‚ because he knew he had three.

Leon also loved using his hands. He was mechanically inclined and often built miniature racecars with tiny‚ working engines. He had the patience of a saint. He grew up working on real car engines in his spare time and came to be known as the ïFirehouse Auto Mechanic’. He was also a disc jockey‚ along with close friend‚ Rick Fowler. The dynamic duo called themselves‚ The Slicksters! When Leon wasn’t working at the firehouse‚ he was often showing another of his many talents‚ by performing in various charity basketball games. He was a proud member of the Vulcan Society‚ an organization of black firefighters.

Recently‚ Leon performed along with his coworker‚ Vernon Cherry‚ who is also among the missing with Ladder 118‚ and other firefighters‚ for the benefit of a young lady battling leukemia‚ through an organization called Songs of Love. As always‚ Leon was happy to do a good deed. CBS also cast Leon as an extra in the New York series Third Watch.

Leon was a close and loving family man. The New York Daily News featured Leon and his family in a profile titled The Family That Plays Together on June 27‚ 1987.

There have been many stories told of Leon’s heroic efforts over the years. One such story was published by The Brooklyn Heights Press‚ telling of Leon’s assistance in stopping a purse snatching and how he and three other firefighters chased the thief all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge‚ where they held him until the police arrived. Acts such as this earned him the nickname Physical Lee. His coworkers nicknamed him Express because he felt his beloved fire truck‚ whom he referred to fondly as his girlfriend‚ should always be among the first to arrive at the scene of a fire.

Leon loved his family dearly and was very close to all. He lost his father‚ whom he referred to as his hero‚ on December 6‚ 1999. Leon’s mother told him she had lost her right arm. No‚ you haven’t‚ Momma. I’ll always be here for you.

Leon leaves behind his mother Irene Smith‚ wife Marilyn‚ four daughters-Nakia‚ The Twins-Tiffany and Yolanda‚ and Jasmine‚ one grandson Mekhi‚ a mother-in-law Cathy Owens‚ two grandmothers-Claudia Smith and Lovie Woolridge‚ and his close friend Shelley Haynes‚ who was a very important part of Leon’s life.

Along with his Brothers at Engine 205‚ Ladder 188‚ Leon also leaves a host of relatives and friends that miss him dearly.

Irene Smith

  • (will not be published)

Memorial Wall

  1. To the Family of Firefighter
    Leon Smith, Jr: Although I didn’t know him personally, I was Very Pleased to have had the privilege of hearing about his life through stories told to me by my Former Husband, Bernard Beaver, who happened to be the Godfather of one of Leon & Marilyn’s Twin Daughters. Yes, I Still recall where I was & what I was doing on that Fateful Day! My Union Colleague & I were given the task of traveling to Washington, DC, for an AFL-CIO – WORK-LIFE CONFERENCE. As we both watched the Television Screens (as we waited @ Penn Station), in Total Disbelief – we were blinded by the tears in our eyes! Penn Station suddenly became a Flurry of Nervous Activity! Many Commuters also appeared numb, as we were All experiencing similar emotions. Shock filled the Amtrak Corridor! Suddenly we were ordered to evacuate the Terminal, & we quickly complied. We later learned of a Bomb Threat! As we congregated near the pay phones, waiting for a turn to reach our love ones, sinece our cell phones were inoperable; as the heat of the day hit us as we stepped outside of Penn Station, I looked toward the Empire State Building – The One Lone Skyscraper, just a few blocks East, I wondered, “Could this Structure be next to be hit?” We were finally able to reach our family members, if only for a brief moment, to let them know that we were safe. As we waited for word of any transportation – the streets were eerily empty – we followed some of the crowd to a fast-food restaurant across the Street. For some strange reason, we had the urge to eat something; as we waited to place our orders, we observed another crowd of people surrounding a man, who was covered in gray soot – he was obviously shaken. He began to tell us that he was in the Towers, as they began to collapse!!! A Gentleman from the crowd embraced him & another person offered him coffee. I suddenly felt like I, too, had been in the Towers! What a Day!!! Next there was word from someone in the crowd that Amtrak was beginning to resume service. Well since NYC was basically shut down, there was no way for us to get back home. Not even One Taxi was on the Street! We were on our way to Washington, DC after all! It was at least five or more hours since the Towers of the World Trade Collapsed, due to the Evil actions of Terrorists!!!! We will Never Forget the over 3,000 Lives the were Lost..Many were First Responders – Police, Firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians…Business Owners, Managers, Office Workers, Restaurant Workers; and Many Other Innocent Men & Women, who Just Decided to Go to Work on that Fateful Day…To The Countless Medical Personnel – Doctors, Nurses, Technicians, NYC Transit Workers, many of whom worked on ‘The Pile’, moving debris, recovering Hundreds of Bodies, I want to say, THANK YOU, for risking your Lives! WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU!!! To the Countless Members of the Clergy – Priests, Ministers, Imams of All Faiths, who came to provide some Level of Comfort, THANK YOU, for Praying with Us During those Many Difficult Days, Weeks & Months in the Aftermath of this Horrific Tragedy!!! To the Man & Woman on the Street, who may have took the time to say a few words of Comfort to Anyone Affected, THANK YOU, for Caring!!!
    I wish to close by saying, A ‘SPECIAL, THANK YOU’, to Firefighter Leon Smith, and others Like him, who devoted their Live to Help Others in Need! Their Living was NOT in Vain!!!!!
    May God Bless and Keep His Family!!!!

    Sincerely,

    Deborah Hardwick
    E-mail: Deb6683@gmail.com

    – Deborah Hardwick
  2. Leon was a good friend. Myself and his wife went to nursing school together. That’s how we met. He was always so kind and just a great father. He loved his family. When ever I would visit he always made me feel at home

    – Cynthia McIntosh
  3. RIP

    – Cynthia McIntosh
  4. Today, September 11, 2015, I participated in the 911 Red Rocks Colorado stair climb in memory of Leon Smith, Jr.
    My heart breaks for his family.
    Let us never forget.

    Susan B.

    – Susan Boles
  5. I was honored to climb the September 10, 2016 Fourth Annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI and proudly ring the bell for Leon on the 78th floor. May he rest in peace.

    – Pam Spaulding USMC, Veteran
  6. I was honored to climb the Red Rocks 9/11 Memorial Climb wearing Leon’s name & photo on Sept. 11th 2016. Peace be with Leon and all of his family & friends.

    – Michelle Munger
  7. Dear Leon, Thank you for the service you have gave for this country and the people of New York. Through me, Your legacy will live on, and I wont let you down!

    – Jonathan Clark
  8. I have climbed for Leon this year and last year at the CNY memorial stair climb and I will continue to climb in his honor until I am unable to

    – Evan Okrasinski
  9. I was honored to climb for Leon tonight (9/11/19) at Cahokia Mounds. Thinking of all the family members missing loved ones daily. Thanks Leon!

    – Emily Reed
  10. I was honored to participate in the 9/11 stair climb this morning, September 11,2020, for Leon Smith Jr., wearing his picture on my shirt as I climbed. My heart goes out to him, his family, and the other first responders who risked their lives for others on that day.

    – Cassidy Wakefield
  11. I will be running the tunnel to towers foundation 5k tomorrow in Orlando. In my race packet pick up I was given a photo of Leon Smith. I will be running in memory of Leon and everyone else who perished on 9/11. Prayers to Leon, his family and friends, and everyone else who died due to 9/11.

    – Anil Patel
  12. Leon thank you 🙏 for your service and sacrifice you made. May your memories bring comfort to your loved ones. I can promise we will never forget you ❤️

    Nicole
  13. My name is Pete Azzopardi. I am a current Driver Engineer with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. On Saturday 9/11/21, I had the opportunity to do the annual Memorial Stair Climb and climbed 110 floors in honor of Leon. May his spirit survive in all of us that continue to wear the badge. God Bless.

    – Peter Azzopardi
  14. I have th privilege of having a 911 bracelet with Leon’s name on it. It would be an honor to send it to a family member.

    – Gerald Kent