'He Always Was My Hero'
Raymond R. York spent nearly two decades fighting blazes and loving the New York Fire Department when a shoulder injury 18 months ago forced him into light duty. But he found a second calling, teaching children about fire safety at the Fire Zone at Rockefeller Center. There, he was "Fireman Ray" to the youngsters whom he captivated.
But on Tuesday, he learned of the World Trade Center attack from a television crew that was doing a story on the Fire Zone, jumped onto a nearby fire truck and headed downtown. After traffic held him up, he hitched a ride on an ambulance and reached the Fire Department's command post at the trade center.
"We're so proud and we just want everybody to know what a great guy Ray was," his wife, Joan, said. "Everybody's saying, 'He's a hero, he's a hero.' He always was my hero. Now the world knows he's a hero."
She described her husband as a man in love with life, a man who insisted on flying the flag. "He was a Little League coach, he was a scout leader — when it came to his kids, he was there for everything," she said. That included building an ice skating rink in the backyard of their Valley Stream, N.Y., home when his son, one of four children, wanted to learn how to skate.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 17, 2001.