The Man Who Did It All
There wasn't much that Dennis P. McHugh, 34, couldn't do. He ran the New York City Marathon, played Gaelic football, married the beautiful Una Hinchcliffe and became the proud father of Chloe, 5, and Sophie and Joseph, who both turned 1 last week. When he became a firefighter with Ladder Company 13 three years ago, "he was about as perfect as you can get," said his friend Chris Gainer, who graduated from the Fire Academy with him and, in longstanding firehouse tradition, became "the bad probie" while Mr. McHugh was "the good probie."
On summer mornings at the family place in Montauk, Mr. McHugh's brothers-in-law would wake up and rush to the window, "to see if he'd done all the chores," said Rob Hinchcliffe. "By the time we'd woken up at 11 o'clock, this guy had already painted the house and mowed the lawn. It was an ongoing joke. Dennis always made us look bad as sons."
For the twins' birthday, Mrs. McHugh asked everyone in the family to write down their memories of her husband. She has created a Web site, www.nyfdwidows.net, listing information about books and other ways to cope with loss, as another tribute to him. "He was always so optimistic," she said. "He always saw the glass as half full."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 14, 2001.