Seeker of Solace Outdoors
Screaming sirens. Thick coats with broad yellow stripes. Strong arms, sharp eyes, stoic indifference to danger.
A winter's day. Evergreen needles trapped in a wisp of snow. Skies cleared by cold, and a vista open to all possibility, all hope.
At his core, Mark Whitford, 31, was a New York City fireman. And tempting though it is to let that description stand for the man, those who knew him said it should be noted that he also was a man who sought solace in the outdoors.
"If he had a bed of grass under his feet and a bit of sky above his head, he was happy," said his wife, Rene.
Firefighter Whitford, a captain in the Army Reserve, drove a rig at Engine Company 23. It was his life's dream. "When you hear of a guy born to be a fireman, that was Mark," said his brother Dennis.
After Firefighter Whitford's twins, Timothy and Matthew, were born 15 months ago, he moved closer to the trails at Bear Mountain. His favorite spot was the lookout atop the mountain known as Anthony's Nose.
He and Ms. Whitford hiked up in February. "It was very cold," she recalled. "It just felt peaceful there. The world was shut out. We were together, and we didn't have to worry about anything."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 6, 2001.
Mark Whitford, 31, of Salisbury Mills, New York, formerly of Staten Island, New York, an Army Reserve veteran, a fireman with Engine Co. 23 in New York City, died while trying to save others at the World Trade Center on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Visitation is scheduled for Monday, April 8, 2002, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., at David T. Ferguson Funeral Home Inc., 20 North Street, Washingtonville. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Tuesday, April 9, 10 a.m., at St. Mary's Church, Washingtonville. Burial will be at St. Mary's Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to David T. Ferguson Funeral Home Inc., Washingtonville, New York.