families and friends are appreciated.
March 20, 2002
NY Daily News
Lt. Stephen Browne of Ladder 3 said McAvoy “had
the values of an old-timer toward the job. John
was one of the most thoroughly prepared firemen
I've ever seen in my life.”
October 22, 2001
As you may recall, the captain of your Ladder
Co. 3 asked you to see if you could help me find out
about William McNally, a maternal great grandfather,
who was said to have been a NY fireman and who died
in the line of duty around 1900. I had sent a letter
which he passed on to you. You found our family hero
in the archives of the company, as well as on a
plaque on the wall of the station house. You sent
email about what you had found, you called us and
talked with my husband and myself, you sent a lovely
note with copies of old NY Times accounts, and you
invited us to your station house and even to your
home. You did more than I ever expected. I have kept
your emails and your letters in my research binder,
always meaning to find the time to get to the station
house to meet you and see the plaque of our fallen
hero, William McNally.
It was the morning of Sept. 12th that I tracked
down the NYFD Help Line and, with trepidation, asked
the fireman who answered about your whereabouts. His
answer to me was what I had dreaded. Apparently it
was obvious from my voice because he added a final
“Hang in there.”
For days I waited, like so many others, for some
definite word. A cousin’s friend, who lives in lower
Manhattan, went to Ladder Co. 3 for me. She reported
that 12 of the 25 fire fighters had been lost and
that there was an assistance fund for the families.
[NOTE: The Ladder 3 Assistance Fund is now closed.]
called the station house and talked with Doug
DiGeorgio and Steve Gonzales. I notified other family
members and I sent a check asking that it go your
family. In addition, I compiled the information that
you had provided into a page on a web site that I
have developed for our family history, I added a
tribute to you, and I dedicated the page to both you
and William McNally.
In closing, let me belatedly thank you, John,
for all your help. You were a hero to me long before
Sept. 11. I regret never having made it to thank you
in person at the stationhouse. I’m determined to
visit there now.
This web site is a personal project, not
an official site, nor a commercial site, nor a charity.
This site was not and is not connected with the former Ladder 3 Assistance
Please note: Five years after 9/11 the Ladder 3 Assistance Fund has been
closed. All the funds have been disbursed to the families of the firemen who
were lost. We thank everyone for their contributions.
This is not an official City of New York or FDNY web site. All information
shall not be considered that given by the New York City Fire Department or
FDNY. The FDNY acronym is a registered trademark owned by the City of New York.
Remembering John McAvoy
Ode to my brother John
by Michael McAvoy
To know my brother John is to have an opinion of
him. He was steadfast in his convictions and never
wavered from them.
My opinion of John, and I am sure everyone here
would agree, he gave a lot more of himself then he
received. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that
John put all of us ahead of himself. His helping
hands and warm heart touched many of us gathered
here and countless people even he did not know.
John was my older brother, a label he wore with
much honor. John took the older brother
responsibility very seriously. I always felt
confident and secure knowing John was there. If I
had a problem, it was his problem too. He never gave
up on me when there were times I gave up on myself.
Part of me wanted to grow out from under his wings,
most of me wanted and needed his care, guidance and
protection, not to mention his delicious linguine
and clam sauce.
John was more than a hero firefighter, a doting
husband, a caring father, a loving son, a tireless
hockey coach and a protective older brother. He was
the cook at the annual family picnic. He was also
everyone’s “Mr. Fix It.”
His love for his fellow man and the passion with
which he lived his life, I truly admire. John McAvoy
was bigger than life itself. Shoes many of us could
never fill. He was the dream son every parent would
cherish. Parents who have a few children, say they
don't have a favorite. I can easily say that he was
the overwhelming favorite, he is my favorite too!!
John, if it hadn’t been for growing up with you,
I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I want you to
know how much I admire your courage, respect you as
a man and love you as a brother. Thanks for all the
love, laughter and protection you have given all of
us. John thanks for being you.
The pain is universal
Be assured that the pain felt for the lost
brothers of Ladder 3 is universal and is
sorely felt far away. For me and my family it
is somewhat sentimentally a shared pain. You
see I too am a McAvoy and so I too feel that I
have lost one of our own.
Years ago my Grandfather (from County
Laois) told me that I was related to all the
McAvoy’s all over the world. A visit a few
years back to McAvoy’s pub outside of Dublin
convinced me that he was right as we were
truly treated like long lost cousins. (With
proper amounts of Jamesons’ I might add). So
when I learned of the loss of Firefighter John
McAvoy I truly felt a twinge of personal pain.
As I read more about him and his life I came
to feel that I knew him and believe it or not
saw traits that I’d seen in other McAvoy’s.
Then as I continued to read about all of
the wonderful men of Ladder 3 who we lost that
day the pain became almost overwhelming for
me. What magnificent men they were. What true
heroes all. Truly our earth has been blessed
to have them with us for much to short a time.
For our family the connection with the losses
in FDNY grew when we learned of the passing of
Firefighter Steven Coakley. You see we are
Coakleys too. In fact my great grandfather
Coakley and his brother were lifelong
firefighters in New jersey.
We have been so touched by all of
this that this year my wife and I are
coming to spend Christmas in New York.
We want to come to Ladder 3 to say from
the bottom of our hearts, thank you and
our hearts and our prayers are with you
and we share your grief and that of your
families. We hope that you will permit
us to visit you and to deliver our
feelings in person. We particularly
extend our deepest sympathy to the
family of John McAvoy.
As I look out over the Chesapeake
bay, where we live, the heavens seem
to be a little brighter. And I'm sure
they are because I’m certain that there
are at least 12 new stars brightly
shining there, one for each of the men
from Ladder 3.
Thank you for all that you do. take care and God Bless!!
Elizabeth and Jim McAvoy
Address: PO Box 280
Ophelia VA 22530