An Obligation to Fill Up Life
When he left Staten Island to attend Brown University, Chuck Margiotta told classmates that he would return to New York to become a fireman. He did just that, serving 15 years in Harlem and then the last 4 with Ladder 85 in Staten Island.
He also became a substitute teacher. A private investigator. A coach of his children's soccer and basketball teams. And he was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, winning small roles in the movies "Frequency" and "Hannibal."
"He was usually the guy who got shot," said Steve Gallira, a friend since childhood. "Nobody knows when the guy slept. We don't think he did."
Early on Sept. 11, Mr. Margiotta, 44, was returning to Staten Island after filling in for another firefighter in Brooklyn. Once he heard the news of the attacks, he turned around, caught a ride with Rescue 5 near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and headed for the towers.
That was Chuck: all drive. Always doing the unexpected. Like becoming tight end for his high school football team when he could hardly catch a pass. Like saying unabashedly in the company of other men how he had done the right thing by marrying his wife, Norma. Mr. Gallira said, "I felt all this work he did, Chuck believed it was his obligation to life, to fill it up."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 14, 2001.