Answering a Daughter's Call
Richard Prunty's world revolved around two families. There was his family in Sayville, on Long Island, and there was the Second Battalion of the New York City Fire Department.
Mr. Prunty, the battalion chief, would explain to his wife, Susan, that his life depended on his firefighters. They depended on him, too. When he received promotions, his firefighters did not want him to move on. "It truly was a brotherhood," she said.
Mr. Prunty was heading into 1 World Trade Center with his firefighters, but his wife thinks he probably had tried to call them out because he was so conscious of their safety. At 57, he was a tall, unassuming man, never the type to dominate a conversation or even brag. But when he did have something to say, his soft-spoken words were usually the strongest and most effective that could be said.
Despite his sometimes gruff exterior, his family knew he was a teddy bear. He was protective of his two children, Lisa, 25, and Christopher, 21. His daughter recalls her father's visit when she became so ill at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that she couldn't finish classes during final exams. He stayed for one week, sleeping on the floor. "I almost didn't graduate and that put me through it," she said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 22, 2001.