Loyal to Family and Teams
Leonard Ragaglia made a mean breakfast. Long ago, his 11 brothers and sisters were swapping chores for a meal of crispy bacon and eggs — sunny side up, with unbroken, dead-center yolks. Later, he fixed his special omelets for Donna, his wife; Anthony and Lennie, his sons; and the other firefighters at Engine Company 54 in Midtown Manhattan. They were vast, wobbly things with bacon, onions, cheese, potatoes and tomatoes, said Maureen Ragaglia, his mother.
His father, Leonard Sr., was a firefighter, and the younger Leonard, 36, had always planned to be one, too. He commuted from Staten Island, where he was surrounded by relatives. Like his siblings, he and his family were constantly in and out of his mother's house, where he would toss footballs and pitch whiffle balls to his sons and nephews and nieces.
"He was Mr. Mom," said Linda Taccetta, an older sister. "He wasn't just a father at work. He was with his sons all the time, took them to all their sports and watched pro games with them.
"He was faithful to the teams he liked," Mrs. Taccetta said. "The Mets. The Dallas Cowboys. The Islanders. I'd tell him, `You're true to the wrong teams.' Even when we were little, he was that way. He'd argue about who was better — King Kong or Godzilla. And he'd pick Godzilla."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 28, 2002.