Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life Begins at Forty

Paul A. Tegtmeier waited twenty years to realize his dream of becoming a member of the FDNY.  It was a dream that was finally realized in 2000 when - after two decades' worth of waiting to see his name appear on the FDNY's list of new hires - his name appeared right where he had always wanted to see it.  

He was a forty-year-old rookie in 2000.  By the time he joined the FDNY, he had dedicated more than twenty years as a volunteer firefighter in the Roosevelt, New York Fire Department.  His passion was one that he shared with his wife, Cathy, who he met on the "job" as it were - both of them serving as volunteer members of the Roosevelt Fire Department.  According to Cathy, he was the happiest he had ever been in his life at the moment it ended - on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  He was living his dream. 

FF Tegtmeier had spent eighteen months with Engine 4 in Lower Manhattan but was, in fact, assigned to Ladder 46 in the Bronx.  On the final morning of his life, he was actually on his way into Manhattan to cover a shift at Engine 26 and driving on the West Side Highway when he apparently saw one of the planes hit.  He never officially signed in that morning at Engine 26 but his civilian shoes were found at the firehouse - his car parked several blocks away.  On such a day and under such a set of circumstances, who stands on ceremony?  Not a man with close to a quarter-century of experience helping others as a volunteer firefighter.  Not a man whose passion for helping others - and for being a firefighter - had kept him keeping on for the twenty years it took for him to be accepted into the FDNY.   

In addition to his wife Cathy, Paul Tegtmeier was survived by the couple's two moppet-aged children.  Aric, his son, was six years old when his dad was killed.  Andrea, his daughter, was roughly half as old as her big brother.   FF Tegtmeier's body was not recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center.  His remains were never identified.  Cathy Tegtmeier, Aric Tegtmeier, and Andrea Tegtmeier keep him alive in their hearts through their love and their memories.  Fourteen years further on up the road, their pain remains but so does their love. 

And therefore so does he.  Right where he has always been.  Right where he shall remain.  

FF Paul A. Tegtmeier
Engine 4 - FDNY


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