Like Father, Like Son
Their firstborn's name was debated and decided, but the baby looked too much like his father to be a Brendan. He was a Peter J. O'Neill Jr. — case closed — his mother, Jeanne, decided when she caught her first glimpse. Peter O'Neill shared all of his father's interests and an extra virtue: enamored of firemen from the time he was 2, he joined his local volunteer crew in Amityville, N.Y., at 17.
At home, he and his father were known as "the twins." Handy and outdoorsy like dad, Peter Jr. knew his way around the family boat, the basement toolbox, the lawn mower; he also hunted duck and shot skeet, a bonding ritual for the O'Neill men.
He considered working alongside his father, a Wall Streeter-turned-painting contractor, but realized his business degree from Bentley College would get a better workout at his uncle's firm, Sandler O'Neill & Partners, at 2 World Trade Center. He was a natural there, too, and he and four friends were stockpiling their salaries in hopes of renting a Manhattan apartment.
Shoe-shopping on the Sunday before the attack, Peter, 21, told his mother he intended to take classes to become an emergency medical technician. When she asked why he wanted to do that rather than go to graduate school, he said, "Because, Mom, I want to help people."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 1, 2001.