Born to Laugh
It did not take Lee S. Fehling's mother long to know that she had a character on her hands. "You know when the doctor slaps you on the back and the baby cries?" said his mother, Joan Bischoff. "Lee came out laughing."
Mr. Fehling, 28, relished a good telephone prank, calling his mother, an insurance investigator, and claiming to be an investigation subject, or impersonating a Nassau County official to inform a friend that her garage violated zoning restrictions.
"He wasn't ever a fan of dull moments," said his younger brother, Thomas.
This was particularly problematic for those who played bagpipes with Mr. Fehling in the American Legion band in Wantagh, on Long Island, where he lived. (Just try playing the pipes while cracking up.)
Mr. Fehling, a firefighter with Engine Company 235 in Brooklyn, could always make his wife, Danielle, smile, but he could never fool her. "I could tell a mile away if he was up to something," she said.
He adored his daughter Kaitlin, 4. But his stepsister-in-law Jennifer Bischoff thinks she knows the real reason he was pleased that the second little Fehling would also be a girl. (Megan was born Oct. 18.)
"He was afraid a little boy would be just like him," she said, chuckling. "And he wouldn't be able to handle it."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 21, 2001.