Fun Is the Beach
Fire may have provided Lt. Kevin Donnelly of Ladder Company 3 with his livelihood, but what he loved was water.
Born under the hot July sun, he got a job as a lifeguard at the town pool in Wantagh, while still a teenager on Long Island, said his mother, Cecilia. As an adult, he found any excuse to head for the water, even when some other task beckoned.
"He kept a bathing suit, a towel and goggles in his car at all times, just in case," said his longtime companion, Mary Coughlin, "and in the summer, he'd add two beach chairs, a towel and a bathing suit for me."
The two of them might be driving along, on their way to Home Depot or some other store to run errands. And Lieutenant Donnelly, 43, would turn to her, and say: "You know what? We can do this another time. Let's go to the beach."
He was not persnickety about his beaches, though he preferred those on the ocean. He was hoping to become a lifeguard again, on some Long Island strand. North Shore, South Shore. "He wouldn't have cared what beach he ended up on," Ms. Coughlin said, "as long as it was on the sand and near the water."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 23, 2001.