Earnest and in Dissent
"It was hard to dislike Frank, but he sure could get on your nerves," chuckled his brother-in- law, Michael Courtien. "He was always trying to do the right thing. But he was no diplomat."
An example, perhaps burnished by memory: union delegates are about to vote on a proposal, considered a done deal. Predictably, Firefighter Frank Palombo's hand shoots up. Unpredictably, he announces his support. Buzz, buzz. The proposal fails: If Frank says yes, let's rethink, because disagreement is normal for Frank.
There was no arrow straighter than Mr. Palombo, 46, of Ladder Company 105 in Brooklyn. His moral outlook was shaped by studying for the priesthood; his degree in philosophy; the Roman Catholic prayer group with whom he worshiped twice a week; his wife, Jean, and their eight sons and two daughters, ages 1 to 15. Mrs. Palombo would look down the dinner table and catch him weeping. "I'm so fortunate to have all these children," he would say.
Mr. Palombo, who joined the department in 1979, believed God would provide. Since his death, Brooklyn neighbors who never said hello stop by and towns in far-away states send gifts. The family is well, reports Mr. Courtien. They believe that God is providing and that good is flowing from the tragedy. As a point of view it was quite Frank-like.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 7, 2001.