He Went Everywhere, And Made Friends

January 14, 2002

There's a reason Bob Linnane's sister-in-law used to call him "Bob Gump" after the character in the movie "Forrest Gump."

"He just used to surface in the oddest places," said Janice Linnane of East Northport. "He would call from the beaches on Nice, just to say hi. He took off to Russia once and came back with a picture of him and Michael Jackson ... Half the time, we didn't even know where he was."

She could guess what he was doing, however - "Probably sightseeing, meeting women and drinking beer."

Hawaii, Alaska, Amsterdam, Rio - Linnane, 33, took every opportunity he had to explore the world. For the nearly eight years he worked on the ground staff at Delta Airlines, his brother Vinny Linnane said, "He took full advantage of the flight perks."

And everywhere he went, Linnane made friends and tried to see their countries through their eyes. "The main thing he would really like to do is stay with people, rather than stay in a hotel," his brother said. "People would take a liking to him, and say, 'Why don't you come stay with us for a few days?'"

Linnane happily returned the favor, his brother said. He remained in his parents' house in West Hempstead - both had died several years earlier. And, with the international guests who regularly showed up on the doorstep, his brother joked, "the house was turned into a motel."

A year and a half ago, Linnane left the airline industry to become a firefighter, initially stationed at Engine Co. 219 and Ladder Co. 105 in Brooklyn, and then at Ladder Co. 20 in SoHo. Still a "probie," Linnane was one of seven firefighters from Ladder 20 among the missing in the World Trade Center. His former firehouse lost six.

Linnane's remains were found just before Thanksgiving - a relief, his brother said, but a somewhat hollow one. "I'm sure he would wish that everyone was recovered," he said.

Linnane is also survived by another brother, John.

Since Sept. 11, Vinny Linnane said, "People seemed to just come out of the woodwork ... He had a vast army of friends. It's overwhelming, quite honestly."

At the family house, the answering machine still has Linnane's voice on it.

"Some of his friends call there," Vinny Linnane said. "Of course, they don't leave a message. They just call to hear his voice."

-- Indrani Sen (Newsday)