Always Giving 150 Percent
When the Spear family had not heard from "Robbie," as they called 30-year-old Robert W. Spear Jr., a firefighter, by late afternoon on Sept. 11, they began to worry. He was always in constant contact with his wife and mother, sometimes having rushed cellphone conversations from the back of a speeding fire truck.
The family's thoughts had been centered on Timothy A. Haviland, Firefighter Spear's brother-in-law, whose office on the 96th floor in tower one of the trade center they saw burning on television.
"I didn't think my son was there," said Irene Spear DeSantis, Firefighter Spear's mother. "But of course he would have been there. This is a man who took a sizable pay cut to join the Fire Department. Anything he did, he did 150 percent."
Firefighter Spear took the entrance test for the Fire Department almost 10 years ago, but it was not hiring at the time, his mother said, so he climbed the ranks in other occupations instead. When the department finally did call, there was no hesitation. "And he loved it," his mother said of his job with Engine Company 26 in the South Bronx. "He loved the camaraderie."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 30, 2001.