Samuel Oitice: Roller Coaster Love

Samuel Oitice and his wife, Jean, met on the Peekskill, N.Y., ambulance corps. "He was the driver and I was the crew chief, and I said, `That's how we're going to keep it,' " she said. "I'd tell everyone that story, but it's not funny anymore."

Samuel Oitice, 45, was a New York City firefighter who lived in Peekskill. The couple had a son, John, 19, and a daughter, Jessica, 16.

In the past year, Mrs. Oitice has had to take on her husband's love of roller coasters. "The higher they were, the bigger the drop, the more he loved them," she said.

She used to stay on the ground, but has since ridden Disney World's Tower of Terror with her daughter, who told her, "Daddy would be proud."

And he knew the risks of his job.

"He said to the kids at one point, when they finally realized what he did: `I married your mom for a reason. I know if something happens to me she'll get you through this,' " she said. "It has just given me strength to know that he had so much faith in me to keep the family together."

After his funeral, his best friend came into the firehouse, laughing, she said. Seems the fire truck carrying his body had stalled in the graveyard and couldn't be started. "I said, `He's playing with us.' He hated all the pomp and circumstance. He didn't want it."