Kenny and Patty, Always
From an early age, Kenny Phelan looked out for other people. He took the children in the neighborhood no one else wanted to coach and turned them into a basketball team.
"He said, `Well, now these kids have somewhere to play,' " said his younger brother, Lenard. When the two of them became police officers in Manhattan, Kenny would drive by to see how Lenny, on foot patrol, was doing.
Their father, a retired firefighter, was proud when his sons joined the Fire Department. Kenny Phelan, who was 41, asked for his father's old firehouse, Engine Company 217 in Brooklyn, when he was promoted to lieutenant. Off duty, he led his four children — Kimberly, Erin, Danny and Kenny — on family outings to Walt Disney World and taught them sports. Now one of his sons plays third base and is known as "the Vacuum." Nothing gets past him.
Lieutenant Phelan and his wife, Patty, met as teenagers. Neither of them ever dated anyone else, and he was never without his wedding ring, which she still hopes will turn up. For their first date, he asked her to a Mets game. On the way there, she lost a contact lens. An old lady came out of her house, found it, and invited them in for Cokes. They made it to the game, and the Mets won. "I guess I won, too," Mrs. Phelan said. "People looked at us and it was always Kenny and Patty. I hope my children will have that, and I hope whoever didn't have that will have it in the future, because life is empty without it."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on August 11, 2002.
PHELAN-Kenneth J. Lieutenant FDNY, Engine 217, Brooklyn, New York, and former firefighter in Ladder 7 & Engine 16 Manhattan. He died bravely in the line of duty on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. Beloved husband of Patty. Loving father of Kimberly, Erin, Danny and Kenny, Jr. Cherished son of Helene and Daniel (Retired FDNY). Dear sonin-law of Bud and Di Horan. Devoted brother of Marian Owens, Jean Diaz, Mary Cox, Lenny (Lt. FDNY) and Fran Krische. Dear grandson of John Phelan & Helen Obremski. Loving godfather, godson, brother-in-law, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. The family will receive friends at Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Ave, Maspeth, Friday 2-5 and 7-9PM. Memorial Mass Sunday, November 11, 2001 at Our Lady of Hope Church, 2:30PM. In lieu of flowers, donations to E-16/L-7 Fallen Firefighter Fund, 234 East 29th Street, NY, NY 10016, would appreciated.
Paid notice published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 8, 2001.