As I have done in prior years, I have chosen to remember Rich on this 11th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks
In the earlier organized tribute, I requested Rich because I had personally known him.
I grew up in Valley Stream, NY and when I was a teenager, Our Lady of Peace Parish in Lynbrook had a Catholic youth group called Antioch, which I attended weekly, and Rich was the leader of the group. Our Lady of Peace was his Parish.
Even though I was only a teenager, I knew that Rich was a special person because of the love he showed us and the patience he had for us. After I graduated from high school, I didn't go to Antioch anymore. It was years later that I again ran into Rich. It was in NY City, in front of Penn Station. We were both on our way to work, so we only spoke for a couple of minutes. I updated him on my job at the time, and he told me how he was a Fire Safety Inspector at the WTC.
Here is Rich's profile as published in the NY Times on September 27, 2001 and re-printed at Legacy.com.
Richard Fitzsimons, of Lynbrook, N.Y., kept his Irish roots well watered. For him, a visit to Ireland was going home, said Colleen, his daughter. He last saw Dublin in the summer, when he ate, drank and danced for 13 hours to celebrate a niece's wedding.
At home, he kept busy. In his job as a fire safety inspector at the World Trade Center, he conducted drills and planned evacuations. He was, Ms. Fitzsimons said, almost certainly "saving people right from the start."
Mr. Fitzsimons golfed and coached a working men's ice hockey team. He belonged to the Ancient Order of Hibernians and had studied Gaelic with Patricia, his wife.
At 57, he was keeping his life interesting by starting fresh. He was toying with the idea of another career as a guidance counselor or as a travel agent. Two years ago, he began taking piano lessons. He and his wife would spend evenings at home, singing old tunes while he played along.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 27, 2001.
Rich was an alumnus of Hofstra University. Here is what they posted.
Mr. Richard P. Fitzsimons, Class of 1978 was a resident of Lynbrook who served as Fire Safety Director for the World Trade Center. He had just completed evacuating the children from the Day Care Center and was last seen heading toward a sub-basement in the World Trade Center to assist in the rescue effort.
Here is a picture of Rich's Quilt at UnitedinMemory.net.
Here is the tribute that was posted at AmericanMemorials.com.
FITZSIMONS-Richard P. of Lynbrook, tragically and heroically on September 11, 2001. Director of fire safety for the OCS Group at the World Trade Center. Retired Internal Auditor for NYNEX. Member of the Nassau County Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #14. Past Leader of the Our Lady of Peace R.C. Church Antioch Group. Beloved husband of Patricia. Loving father of Colleen, and Sean and his wife Kristin. Dear brother of Patrick and Olga, Robert and Kay, and John and Pat. Cherished son-in-law of Robert and Edna Nelson. Brother-in-law of Thomas and Priscilla Nelson. Adored uncle of John, Patricia, Thomas, Marie, Beth, Christopher, Robert, and Brian. Also survived by many loving cousins in Ireland. Celebration of Life Mass Saturday, November 10, 2001 at 12:00 PM at Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church, 25 Fowler Avenue (Corner Peninsula Blvd. and Merrick Road), Lynbrook. Contributions in Richard's name can be made to The Little Flower Children's Fund, Route 25A, Wading River, New York 11792.