He Built Skyscrapers, Then Joined the FDNY

November 18, 2001

She met him at Smithtown High School when they were 15. Sweethearts through their awkward teens. Marriage and children. He became an iron worker and then a New York City firefighter.

She waited at home while he hunted deer, rode horses and took their four children on camping trips. She rooted for him when he played softball with his firefighter buddies.

A truck from Kenneth T. Watson's Engine Co. 214 in Bedford-Stuyvesant dropped him off at the corner of Liberty and Church streets, near the south tower, at 9:38 a.m. on Sept. 11. They found his body after seven weeks and held his funeral Nov. 9.

"I still don't believe any of this is true," said his wife, Susan Watson, 39, of Smithtown. "I've never been alone for a day since I was 15."

Watson, 39, worked eight years as an iron worker after graduating high school, building skyscrapers in New York City as he waited for a slot to open up so he could become a firefighter like his father.

He was happy among the rank-and-file. He didn't want to hassle with the paperwork that comes with moving up in the profession.

Watson liked the outdoors, the fresh air, camping with his firehouse friends and all their kids. He and four other firefighters took a trip to the Catskills in August.

"He really did enjoy the down and dirty part of [camping]," his wife said.

Three of those campers are gone now, lost at the World Trade Center.

-- Dionne Searcey (Newsday)