February 11, 2002

A Brooklyn Man Who Never Left Home

Lucy Bocchino of Brooklyn found out more about her son Michael's 22-year career as a firefighter after Sept. 11 than she ever knew before, she said.

It was there, rummaging through boxes of pictures and postcards from his co-workers and friends, that she realized how deep his dedication to the fire department ran.

Even his sand-colored sports car was a Pontiac Firebird, she said.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Michael Leopoldo Bocchino, 45, of Engine Co. 240, Battalion 48, in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, told his mother "not to lock the door because he'd be back that night," she recalled. She still prays that his body will be recovered from the wreckage.

Bocchino lived with his parents, both in their 70s, and two uncles, Leonard and Joseph Piro. "We call our house an old-age home," his mother said.

Actually, there are two houses on East Third Street, which for years have been occupied by generations of Bocchinos and still accommodate aunts, uncles, parents and memories. "Our family grew up in those houses," said Michael Bocchino's brother, Thomas, of Pennsylvania.

Thomas Bocchino said his brother was "a role model" growing up. "He was always helping people." He said Bocchino stayed in his parents' home for his whole life because "that was his neighborhood."

Born in 1955, Bocchino graduated from Erasmus High School in 1973 and attended Brooklyn College for a few years, his mother said.

He began working at Happy Legs, a defunct garment manufacturer in Manhattan, after he left college, and had other "odd jobs," before he entered the New York Fire Department in 1979.

Never married, Bocchino found his joy at the firehouse and at family gatherings, his mother said.

She explained that family solidarity and togetherness have helped them get through the past six months.

In addition to his mother and brother, Bocchino is survived by his father, Michael, and his sister, Debra Lavender of Rhinebeck, N.Y. -Nick Iyer