Struck by Love's Lightning
It is 1991. The young woman is in-line skating in Central Park on a lovely July day. The police officer is standing on duty outside the park's Summerstage, where Marshall Crenshaw is playing. She stops to chat. He asks what she is doing that night. She mentions a bar.
That is how love began between Sandra Endres and John P. Burnside 10 years ago. "He walked in the door, and I said that was it," Mrs. Burnside said. "We were like two old souls. It was absolutely meant to be."
He was a police officer for only three years, while he waited for assignment to his other true love, the Fire Department. There, Firefighter Burnside was known as mistake-free. "When you checked in the morning and you knew John was working, it was going to be a good day," said George Kozlowski, a fellow firefighter at Ladder Company 20 on Lafayette Street.
The Burnsides lived a honeymoon life in Manhattan, vacationing often in the Caribbean and on the slopes. Recently, they started having thoughts of a more settled life. "But just when you think you're going to get serious, buy a home and have kids, it gets taken away," Mrs. Burnside said. " I'm never going to get that back, and it stinks." Her husband left Ladder Company 20 even before the alarm sounded, and died in the collapse of 1 World Trade Center.
Firefighter Burnside was raised in the tightknit Irish-American world of Inwood. He had an irrational love for the Minnesota Vikings, wrote poetry and played the guitar, often in the firehouse. He was so good that another firefighter once thought his rendition of a Led Zeppelin tune was coming out of a radio and went inside to turn it up.
He would have turned 37 last Monday.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 16, 2001.
BURNSIDE-John Patrick. FDNY. Heroically died in the line of duty on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center attack. John was a three year veteran of the NYPD at Central Park Precinct. The last seven years he served as one of New York's bravest amongst his friends and comrades of Ladder 20. John was actively pursuing a promotion by preparing for the FDNY Lieutenant's exam while also representing his fellow fire fighters as the Union delegate at Ladder 20. John Burnside is survived by his forever loving wife Sandra, his parents William and Elizabeth Burnside, brother Robert and sister Ann Marie, and his adoring niece and nephews who thought there was no greater man in the world, Stephen, Mikey, Billy, Amanda, Jenna, Nicolette and Alexis. John will always be rememberd for his musical talent as he was an avid guitar player/musician/writer who strived for creativity and perfection. For his fanatical love of the Minnesota Vikings for which he took much abuse from his friends and fellow fire fighters at Ladder 20. For his dedication and commitment, studying every day to make Lieutenant so he could further make a difference in this city, for this I hope you knew how proud we were. John is and will always be dearly missed by all who were fortunate to have known him. He gave willingly every day to the City of New York as an upstanding citizen and proud fire fighter who was just realizing his potential. John, you were a hero to me everyday at home, now you're a hero to the world and we'll all be forever proud. You will forever be in all our hearts and prayers till we meet again. Memorial visitation, Thursday 2-5 and 7-9 PM, at Frank E. Campbell, 1076 Madison Ave at 81 St. Memorial Mass Friday, November 16, 11 AM, at Good Shepard Church, Broadway at 207th St., SCJ.
Paid notice published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 11, 2001.