There are men who are handy around the house, and then there was Martin McWilliams. At age 4, he grabbed a screwdriver from his father's toolbox -- correctly choosing a Phillips head -- and dismantled the neighbors' storm door. When he grew up, there was no stopping him from tiling kitchens, installing new windows and siding, or putting up wallpaper. "He could do just about everything," said his mother, Mary, said. "He was always ready to help."
Mr. McWilliams, 35, a firefighter with Engine Company 22 on the Upper East Side, had many other talents. He knew his way around cars and left behind several, including a 1963 Mustang, at his mother's house in Kings Park, N.Y. He was a fine skier and an accomplished cook, whose chicken francese was a family favorite.
But there was one skill Mr. McWilliams lacked. "He could appreciate a joke, but he could never tell one," said his younger sister, Lynn McWilliams. "He would always mess up the punch line."
Toward the end of Mr. McWilliams's life, he became a father for the first time. The baby, Sara, is now six months old. "I'm in love with her," he used to tell his family.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 8, 2001.