Raising the Roof
Gerard P. Schrang's fantasy from an early age was to say the words "I'm on the job" as a New York City firefighter, according to his wife, Denise Schrang. A few years after high school he made the fantasy come true. He went on his last job, with Rescue Company 3 in the Bronx, at age 45 on Sept. 11.
"We were happy," Mrs. Schrang said. "His life was to save and help other people.
"He was a simple guy. He loved his family. His idea of a good life was stability, a roof over our head, no fighting," she said of her husband of 25 years, the father of Jacqueline, 22, and Brian Patrick, 19. "On May 10 of 2000, we bought our dream house in upstate New York. We had started the second phase of life."
Mrs. Schrang said she could not bear the thought of going to the house without her husband, an avid hunter and fisherman. But she has gone twice since Sept. 11 and found peace.
"If I give that up, I give up on him and the kids," she said. "We promised each other we would live to be 90. He only made half of that."
Jim Rocchio, a friend, remembers the time that the two of them gave Mrs. Schrang a fit by literally taking the roof off the Schrang home in Holbrook, on Long Island, in a home improvement venture.
Firefighter Schrang was quiet and generous, Mr. Rocchio said. "Here he is, a paid fireman, and he comes out here to help out his community as a volunteer firefighter. He was a good father and a real good friend."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 12, 2001.