Making the Most of It
His friends called it "the Bracken bounce." It was an expression they coined the day on the golf course when he hit a ball into the trees and it miraculously ricocheted back onto the fairway.
But it was not just on the golf course that Kevin Bracken, a firefighter with Engine Company 40 on Amsterdam Avenue and 66th Street, was known as a lucky guy. It was every time he looked for a parking spot on a busy street; or the day, two years ago, his car flipped over in a traffic accident and he escaped without a scratch.
His wife, Jennifer Liang, would say Mr. Bracken, 37, made his own luck. "He was the most optimistic person I ever encountered," she said. "He was never unhappy. Never without a smile on his face. Whatever situation he was in, he made the best of it."
Ms. Liang, who met her husband 11 years ago on the Long Island Rail Road, said that his credo was to live life to the fullest, "to seize the moment and make everything of that moment." He enjoyed being a firefighter, Ms. Liang said. But it was not fighting fires that appealed to him. It was the comradeship at the firehouse.
"He was a real people person," she said. An avid sports fan, who coached the softball team from his local bar, Mr. Bracken never would say "goodbye" to his friends. His parting words were always a kind of shorthand for how he believed you should live your life: "Drive fast. Take chances," he would say.
She added: "If somebody would have told him this would happen, he would have been, 'Me? Are you kidding?' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 22, 2001.