Firefighter Neil J. Leavy, 34, was helping with rescue

He had previously worked as a civilian at the World Trade Center, but always wanted to be a firefighter, according to his cousin


Tuesday, September 18, 2001
By KATI CORNELL SMITH
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER


Neil J. Leavy always wanted to be where the action was.

His dream came true when he was assigned to Engine 217 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the busiest firehouses in the city. A firefighter, first grade, he served the department for nearly five years and received two unit citations for bravery.

Mr. Leavy, 34, a lifelong Staten Islander, came from a tight-knit Irish family with many public servants.

"Because of the tradition in his family, he always wanted to be a firefighter," said his cousin, Michael Leavy of New Dorp, a decorated firefighter who also worked for Engine 217 and who retired in 1997. Another cousin, Bob Leavy, is a firefighter with Ladder 103.

"He picked that house to go to. He knew Bed-Stuy was really busy," Michael said.

On the morning of the attack, Mr. Leavy and his Brooklyn unit rushed to the World Trade Center -- where he had also worked as a civilian -- arriving at 9:40 a.m. His last radio contact came from the lobby of Tower 2, where he was headed toward the stairwell to do search and rescue.

Mr. Leavy lost his life when Tower 2 collapsed. His body was pulled out of the rubble on Sunday night, after more than five days of round-the-clock searching by rescue workers.

Raised in Willowbrook, he graduated from Monsignor Farrell High School in 1985 and earned a bachelor of science degree in finance from New Jersey City University in 1996.

Prior to joining the city Fire Department, Mr. Leavy worked as a commodities trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange at the World Trade Center. He moved to New Dorp approximately seven years ago.

During the past decade, he had enjoyed working part-time as a bartender at Memories in Great Kills. "He had lots of friends at Memories. It was important to him, his work there," said Michael.

"He had a great personality. He was funny," said his cousin, Ann Marie Moore.

Mr. Leavy was a parishioner of St. Roch's R.C. Church, Port Richmond. He was also a member of the Fire Department's Emerald Society and the Holy Name Society.

In his leisure time, he enjoyed running and weightlifting.