Serving the Public Was In Firefighter's Blood

January 11, 2002

Peter Freund was ready to switch careers. A 22-year city fire department veteran, Freund was in the process of embarking on a new career as a mathematics teacher.

A letter from upstate Westtown High School accepting his application arrived the week after the attacks, said his wife, Robin Freund. "He always said he never wanted to work one tour too many."

Freund, 45, had been with Engine Co. 55 in Little Italy for the past five years. His remains, and those of a comrade, one of four others from his company claimed in the attack, were recovered on Oct. 21 from Tower One. He was cremated Oct. 30.

"I don't think he ever regretted a day in his life, except that he probably couldn't have saved more lives that day," Robin Freund said.

Serving the public was in Freund's blood. His late mother, Doris, was a nurse, his late father, Charles, was a New York City sheriff and his cousin, Timothy McSweeney of Ladder Co. 3 in Manhattan, also died in the attacks.

One of four children, Freund is survived by two sisters, Carol Freund of Atlanta and Barbara Salvadore of Holmdel, N.J., and a brother, Charles, of Bricktown, N.J.

Freund earned a degree in computer science from Brooklyn College before starting his career at Engine Co. 18 in the West Village. After making lieutenant there, he served a short stint at Ladder Co. 8 in Manhattan before joining Engine 55.

Freund preferred to spend most of his spare time with his children, Peter, 9, Dori, 13, Julie, 11 and stepson, Ronald Coronato, 24.

His wife said the observatory he built in the backyard of their Westtown home was fitted with a retractable roof, star charts and a telescope with a camera mounted on it. Over the years, he photographed moons, constellations and nebulas, accumulating enough photos - which he developed in his basement darkroom - to fill a file cabinet. His observatory also boasted speakers so he could indulge his other passion: the music of the Grateful Dead.

He didn't have much of a green thumb but with a two-acre parcel at the family home to tend and some coaching from his wife, he became quite the gardener, she said.

Thanks to him, there is now a fish pond as well as vegetable, herb and flower gardens.

As if his life wasn't full enough, her husband still found time to stay in shape, read and tinker around on the computer, Robin Freund said.

With help from friends and neighbors, she said, she's in the process of organizing the construction of an athletic field for local youth to be named for her husband.

-- Collin Nash (Newsday)