Like Father, Like Son
Joseph P. Spor Jr. followed in his father's footsteps from the day he was born, which happened to be his father's birthday.
Like his father, he became a firefighter in the Bronx. Like his father, he also worked as a contractor, skilled enough to raise the roof on his Cape Cod house in Somers, N.Y. And in August, Firefighter Spor, 35, was assigned to the same company, Rescue 3 in the Bronx, where his father had worked. "He was ecstatic," said his wife, Colleen. "He was practicing every night on ropes to get all the different knots he'd be tested on."
Before joining the Fire Department in 1994, Firefighter Spor had an office job in Manhattan. But as the youngest of six children, and the only boy, the pull of his father's boots was irresistible. "He was never all that cut out for a suit and tie," said Michael Griffin, a close friend.
When he wasn't at the firehouse, Firefighter Spor usually strapped on his tool belt. His neighbor Michael Hurson was building a deck in his backyard when they first met. "He came nosing down the driveway and said, `Show me what you're doing,' " Mr. Hurson said. "Then he brought over his own lunch bucket and helped me finish."
Firefighter Spor never got to complete the remodeling of his own house. His Fire Department colleagues took care of the siding. And his father finished the deck.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 6, 2002.
Joseph Spor, 35, loved being a firefighter
He worked as a financial analyst in New York for a few years after college, but having grown up a firefighter's son -- a New York City firefighter's son -- Joseph P. Spor Jr.'s dream was to join the department himself.
Mr. Spor, 35, was accepted into the New York Fire Department in 1994, and in August won a transfer to the highly trained Rescue 3 unit in the Bronx, which was his father's unit.
"He always wanted to be a fireman. He loved his work. My sister was very proud of him," said Catherine Stevens of North Caldwell, Mr. Spor's sister-in-law.
Mr. Spor's unit was deployed to the World Trade Center the morning of the terror attack. The father of four was in the South Tower, trying to rescue people, when he was killed in the building's collapse.
"They were in the first tower that went down. He was on his way up. Rescue 3 was one of the best; that's why they were one of the first called," Stevens said.
Seven members of his team were lost in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Stevens said. Mr. Spor's remains have not been found.
"Joe was so physically fit. Nobody ever thought anything would happen to him," Stevens said.
Mr. Spor of Somers, N.Y., married Colleen Casey in 1992, and was a devoted father to their four children: Casey Ann, 6; Joseph Patrick, 4; Shannon Catherine, 21/2, and Caitlin Marie, 9 months. The couple would have celebrated their wedding anniversary Oct. 3.
Born in the Bronx, the youngest -- and the only boy -- in a family of six, Mr. Spor grew up in Somers and graduated from Somers High School. He then attended Iona College in New Rochelle, graduating in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in finance.
He worked for Milliken & Co. in Manhattan before joining the fire department. He was with Ladder Company 38, also in the Bronx, before Rescue 3.
Mr. Spor had an ever-present smile and a great sense of humor, Stevens said. Known for his work ethic, he was also a master carpenter with his own contracting business, building decks, home additions and custom cabinetry.
He was working on his own home at the time of his death, adding a playroom for his children and turning the older house into a center hall Colonial. Fellow firefighters have begun completing the work, Stevens said.
"They're really a brotherhood that is helping her through this," she said.
Mr. Spor also is survived by his father, Joe of Somers, and five sisters, Catherine Van Drew of Colonial Heights, Va.; Joann Peppard of Putnam Valley, N.Y.; Maureen Comiskey of Kent, N.Y.; Barbara O'Rourke of Carmel, N.Y., and Annamarie Tompkins of LaGrangeville, N.Y. His mother, Ann, died in 1980.
A memorial Mass was held Oct. 13 at St. Patrick's New Church in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Profile by Jeanette Rundquist published in THE STAR-LEDGER.