Love Notes to His Queen
Joseph D. Farrelly met Stacey Goldberg when she was 17 years old. It was love at first sight for Captain Farrelly, then 21. But he waited nearly a month before he asked her out on a date.
"He wouldn't ask me out until after my birthday" when she would turn 18, said Mrs. Farrelly, who married Captain Farrelly two and a half years later. "That's the kind of guy he was."
Captain Farrelly turned out to be the kind of chivalrous husband who always opened doors, washed the dishes after dinner and started his wife's car to make sure it was warm when she got inside. A 22-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, Captain Farrelly, of Engine Company 4, also left Mrs. Farrelly love notes nearly every day, on her pillow or in her car.
"Joe made it a point to make her happy," said Marge Neefus, a longtime friend of the couple. "I used to tease her all the time and call her the queen. He treated her that way. He dedicated his life to making her happy."
Though the couple would eventually have a family of their own, for 10 years they served as foster parents to crack-addicted babies. Captain Farrelly, who was 47 when he died, always took the night shift.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 3, 2002.
Joseph Farrelly, 47, a born firefighter
Dennis Farrelly couldn't get over the fact that his younger brother, Joseph, was afraid of needles, but had no problem running into burning buildings.
"It never went away. He did not like needles," Dennis Farrelly said of Joseph. But Joseph Farrelly couldn't wait to become a firefighter in his hometown of Old Bridge.
As soon as Joseph Farrelly was old enough, he volunteered for the South Old Bridge fire company. He quickly moved on, becoming a paid firefighter in New Brunswick and later in New York City.
Mr. Farrelly, who had been promoted to captain a year ago but had not been assigned a specific firehouse, was filling in for a vacationing colleague on Sept. 11.
His family believes the company, Engine Company 4, Ladder 15, was one of the first to arrive at the World Trade Center after a hijacked airliner slammed into the North Tower. He was 47.
Mr. Farrelly's mother, Teresa, said she knew right away that her son was dead.
"I felt from Day One that he was gone," his mother said. It took his father, Joseph, several more days.
Mr. Farrelly is among 15 firefighters from Engine Company 4 who perished in the World Trade Center.
The fire company recently held a memorial service for all the victims' families and took everyone to Ground Zero.
"I had seen it on television and in the paper. But you can't grasp it until you stand there. It looked like Hiroshima after they dropped the bomb," Dennis Farrelly said.
Hearing his brother's co-workers talk fondly of Joseph during the memorial service helped ease the pain. Over and over again they complimented Mr. Farrelly and talked about how concerned he was for their safety when they responded to fires.
"He wanted to make sure they knew what to do and how to do it so they didn't get hurt," Dennis Farrelly said. "It made me feel good that he had that kind of loyalty with his workers."
Mr. Farrelly also is survived by his wife, Stacey; three children, Ryan, 19, Devin, 17, and Julieann, 11, all of Staten Island; and two brothers, Michael of Sayreville and Patrick of Cheyenne, Wyo.
A memorial service will be held for Mr. Farrelly at noon Monday at the Harbor Manor, 1000 Richmond Terr., Staten Island.
Profile by Alicia Grey published in THE STAR-LEDGER.