A Family Man Who Loved Simple Pleasures

November 1, 2001

On the morning of Sept. 11, VinnieCarla Agnello was walking beside her son, Salvatore, who was riding his bike to his nursery school. From their community of Belle Harbor, they could see across to the clear city skyline where smoke was billowing from the World Trade Center towers. She thought it was a normal fire. "Look, honey," she said to her 3-year-old son, "Daddy's there helping people."

She said she couldn't wait for her husband to come home and tell him that their son rode his bicycle to preschool that morning.

Joseph Agnello, 35, was indeed at the World Trade Center. A firefighter with Ladder Co. 118 in Brooklyn Heights, his wife wouldn't find out until later that day that Agnello was among the hundreds of missing firefighters. But when she got to the school and heard what had happened, her heart immediately sank. "I knew he was in that building," she said.

The couple, married nine years, has two sons, Salvatore and Vincent, 1.

VinnieCarla Agnello describes her husband as a great family man. "I know it seems like I'm making this up, but he was such a good husband and good father," she said.

"He would come home after a 24-hour shift, work his side job and then play with the kids, give them baths."

The couple met in a nightclub. She thought he was very handsome and - once they started talking - a really nice guy. "And after all these years together, he never disappointed me," she said.

A simple man, Agnello never looked for credit for his accomplishments, nor wanted for material possessions. He found comfort and happiness in the little things: being with his family and looking up at the sky on a starry night. "Sometimes, when I take the dogs to the beach for a walk and I look up, I know he's still around," his wife said. "Like tonight. There's the most beautiful moon, and I know he's with me."

-- Stacey Altherr (Newsday)