History and Sci-Fi Buff
His wife used to tease Robert Nagel that he never watched any television channel below the number 13. He could not stand commercials, and therefore commercial television.
Instead, he watched black-and-white movies on cable (though the spread of commercials to cable did not please him), and he was faithful to the History Channel, no matter what was on it. His wife, Janet, has not been able to bring herself to watch that channel since Sept. 11.
Lt. Nagel, a member of Engine Company 58, lived in Manhattan with his wife and their daughter, Bridget. The other thing that captivated him was science-fiction; hundreds of science-fiction books were spread around the house.
He was the type of person who let people know what was on his mind. He was blunt. He was opinionated. "He didn't like things to be bottled up," Mrs. Nagel said.
He could discourse at considerable length on almost any subject. It was not unknown for his monologues to well exceed the listening patience of his friends. When he sensed a distinct waning of interest, he would quickly inject the phrase, "and furthermore," and then stop talking. It became his little joke. Sometimes, someone would say something and he would interject, "and furthermore," and then immediately clam up. Those who knew him just chuckled, and so did he.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on February 3, 2002.