The Mayor of Gilgo Beach
Big and loud, Geoffrey E. Guja always made sure that life was fun for everyone around him. He built tiki huts for parties at the beach and took his golden retriever, Simba, with him to the bars. He even kept a yellow-feather chicken costume in the closet that he donned for special occasions, like his daughter's sweet 16 party last month. It always got laughs.
Lieutenant Guja, 47, was a New York City firefighter for 15 years, and lived with his wife, Debbie, and two daughters, Jamie and Kelly, in Lindenhurst, N.Y. He surfed every summer at Gilgo Beach, and was so popular there that he was called the mayor. At his funeral last Saturday, his wife arranged for a flower replica of his chicken costume to be laid on his grave. "There's nobody else like him," she said. "The world is going to be very quiet and boring without him."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 29, 2001.