'I Have No Regrets'
Charles R. Mendez was a reed of a boy who grew up to be a "good sized" man with a heart to match, said his mother, Doris Mendez. When Mr. Mendez's father died, he was a tremendous help to his mother, even though he was only 21.
Mr. Mendez was a firefighter with Ladder Company 7 in Manhattan. His last job was at the World Trade Center. He was 38.
"He was sort of quiet but well-liked all over," Mrs. Mendez said. "He wanted to be a policeman, first. Then he was working for a bank but when the Fire Department called him, that was his glory. He loved that job."
Firefighter Mendez's wife, Kelli, said her husband so enjoyed his job that there were many mornings he rose early to leave home in Floral Park, on Long Island, to get to work. When he was not working, he renovated their old house, she said. He learned how to be handy by reading books.
"He was always doing something," she said. "We had a million friends and we were always out doing something. We probably vacationed five times a year. I have no regrets -- we never canceled, we never said we can't go, we just did it.
"He was just a wonderful, wonderful person. If I'd known five years ago this would happen, I still would have married him. He was it. He was my best friend."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 20, 2001.