He Loved Family, Firefighting and Football

November 8, 2001

In her mind, she can see him running into the fiery depths of Tower Two, with a huge smile on his face. "Everything he did, he did with extreme passion," said Dawn Haskell-Carbone. But her brother, Thomas Haskell Jr., 37, was particularly passionate about fighting fires.

Haskell's late father, Thomas Haskell Sr., had also been a New York City firefighter. The younger Haskell joined the ranks before he even graduated college. At age 21, he became a fireman while completing his degree in night school at St. John's University. After 16 years, he had worked his way up to Battalion Chief of Ladder Co. 132 in Brooklyn.

"He knew everything there was to know about being a fireman," said Haskell-Carbone. And as the oldest in a family of five children, he knew just as much about being a big brother. "Tommy took that role very seriously," she said.

When two of his brothers, Timothy and Kenneth, also became firefighters, Haskell was ecstatic. "My mother said, 'You would have thought he was the father, he was so proud,'" said Haskell-Carbone. Timothy, 34, was also lost in the tragedy. "We lost two young, beautiful guys," said Haskell-Carbone. "We are just horrified."

Tommy, as the family called him, was the one they could all depend on. Years ago, when harbor waters threatened to flood the family's Seaford home, Haskell drove out to check on the family. After his car stalled in the high water, Haskell waded the rest of the way to the house, Haskell-Carbone said.

"It was the three F's-fam- ily, fire and football."

Though the former all-star football player at Seaford High School traded the pigskin for a hatchet and hose, Haskell fed his spirit for games by participating in activities with his family. Pumpkin picking, soccer games and dance recitals were the standards for Haskell, his wife, Barbara, and their three daughters, Meaghan, 8, Erin, 5, and Tara, 2.

Haskell, said the family, was no-nonsense, but only on the outside. "Tommy was very serious, but that hid a very caring person," said Haskell- Carbone. "And that caring showed in everything that he did."

Visitation for Haskell is tomorrow from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Seaford Fire House, 2170 Southard Ave. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at St. William the Abbot Church in Seaford.

-- Nedra Rhone (Newsday)