Lessons Learned Young-December 31, 2001, THE NEW YORK TIMES
James P. Leahy learned responsibility at a tragically early age. A New York City police officer, he was 13 and the eldest of five children when his father, a Parks and Recreation Department employee, was murdered while on duty at a city golf course.
Officer Leahy, 38, became the head of his family then and there, said Officer Tim Duffy, a colleague at the Sixth Precinct in Greenwich Village. His youngest sister, Danielle, describes James Leahy as the only father she knew, from the time she was a toddler until he walked her down the aisle.
Losing his father shaped Officer Leahy's devotion to his own family: his childhood sweetheart and wife, Marcela, and his sons, James Jr., 18, Danny, 13, and John, 6. To ensure his children's educations, he worked two part-time jobs, as a security guard at New York University and at a J. C. Penney store near his Staten Island home.
He coached his sons in football and was always on the sidelines for their Little League games. A die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Officer Leahy fulfilled a dream by taking his boys to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio last summer (2000) for the induction of Lynn Swann, his favorite player.
JAMES LEAHY, 38, of New York, an officer working the New York Police Department's 6th Precinct, ``was always very unselfish, putting others first, and that's why he ran into Tower 1 on September 11th. He was trying to help the people,'' said his sister Michele Safatle. Leahy was told he didn't have to be in the building but took oxygen bottles and other supplies to firefighters anyway. "Jim would never consider what he did to be an act of heroism," said his brother, Arthur III. "He just took his love of people and wanting to help them seriously."-Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press
Halloween was a favorite holiday of James Leahy. He and his wife, Marcela, decorated their Staten Island house each year. Often, he would dress up to look like a prop on the lawn and jump out at unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. He would even don a costume and go house to house with his children, to the delight of James Jr., 17, Danny, 13, and John, 6.-New York Newsday Victim Database 10/18/2001
Perhaps Leahy, 38, enjoyed his children so much because his own father was murdered when he was just 13. As the eldest child, Leahy quickly became the man of the house, helping his mother with chores and tending to the other children, said his wife.
Leahy, an officer in the 6th Precinct, was working his usual shift in downtown Manhattan with his partner when they saw the first plane hit the buildings, his wife said.
At 9:35 a.m., she received a phone message from him. "I'm in the building. I'm OK. Tell the kids I'm OK. I'll call you later." When she heard the message, she panicked. "I called the precinct. They didn't even know they were in there," she said.
Later that night, his partner was found in a Brooklyn hospital. Tapes of radio contact with Leahy said he was carrying oxygen tanks up the floors. Marcela has heard the tapes and was surprised that he sounded so calm. "His last words to his partner were that there were more people upstairs and he was going up to help them," she said.
James and Marcela, who had dated since they were teenagers, were married 19 years. "I've known him since I was 11," she said. "That's why this is so hard. Everything in my life, he was there."
Police Officer James P. Leahy, 38, was appointed to the NYPD on January 13, 1992, and began his career on patrol in the 6 Precinct where he remained for his entire career. Although he was a high school football player and attended Walsh College in Ohio, his childhood ambition was to become a professional wrestler. The oldest of five children, PO Leahy became a surrogate dad to his four siblings when their father Arthur, a Parks Department employee, was killed in the line of duty during a robbery in 1975. He is survived by his wife Marcella; children Danny, James Jr., and John; mother Jeanette; sisters Danielle, Denise and Michele; and brother Arthur.-SPRING 3100, Commemorative Issue
And because James wouldn't want them forgotten...
The following officers were killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001, as they rushed to the assistance of Trade Center workers, visitors, and fellow officers:
New York City Police Department
Sergeant John Gerard Coughlin
Sergeant Michael Sean Curtin
Police Officer John D’Allara
Police Officer Vincent G. Danz
Police Officer Jerome Mark Patrick Dominguez
Police Officer Stephen Patrick Driscoll
Police Officer Mark Joseph Ellis
Police Officer Robert Fazio, Jr.
Sergeant Rodney C. Gillis
Police Officer Ronald Philip Kloepfer
Police Officer Thomas Michael Langone
Police Officer James Patrick Leahy
Police Officer Brian Grady McDonnell
Police Officer John William Perry
Police Officer Glen Kerrin Pettit
Detective Claude Daniel Richards
Sergeant Timothy A. Roy, Sr.
Police Officer Moira Ann Smith
Police Officer Ramon Suarez
Police Officer Paul Talty
Police Officer Santos Valentin, Jr.
Detective Joseph Vincent Vigiano
Police Officer Walter Edward Weaver
Port Authority Police Department NY/NJ
Police Officer Christopher Charles Amoroso
Police Officer Maurice Vincent Barry
Police Officer Liam Callahan
Lieutenant Robert D. Cirri
Police Officer Clinton Davis, Sr.
Police Officer Donald A. Foreman
Police Officer Gregg J. Froehner
Police Officer Thomas Edward Gorman
Police Officer Uhuru G. Houston
Police Officer George G. Howard
Police Officer Stephen Huczko, Jr.
Inspector Anthony P. Infante, Jr.
Police Officer Paul William Jurgens
Sergeant Robert Michael Kaulfers
Police Officer Paul Laszczynski
Police Officer David Prudencio Lemagne
Police Officer John J. Lennon, Jr.
Police Officer John Dennis Levi
Police Officer James Francis Lynch
Captain Kathy Nancy Mazza
Police Officer Donald James McIntyre
Police Officer Walter Arthur McNeil
Superintendent Ferdinand V. Morrone
Police Officer Joseph M. Navas
Police Officer James A. Nelson
Police Officer Alfonse J. Niedermeyer III
Police Officer James Wendell Parham
Police Officer Dominick Pezzulo
Police Officer Bruce Albert Reynolds
Police Officer Antonio J. Rodrigues
Police Officer Richard Rodriguez
Chief James A. Romito
Police Officer John P. Skala
Police Officer Walwyn Wellington Stuart, Jr.
Police Officer Kenneth Francis Tietjen
Police Officer Nathaniel Webb
Police Officer Michael T. Wholey
James...the cousin of a friend...who was by all accounts, an amazing son, brother, cousin, husband, father, and uncle.
A good police officer.
Mike...if you ever happen upon this blog...drop me a line...I would love to hear from you again.
(I didn't want to participate in an online memorial project though I did take inspiration from that idea.)