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Thread: About Ken

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    About Ken

    Kenneth Kumpel, 42, FDNY, craftsman built family's home

    He and his wife and 2 sons moved to Cornwall-on-Hudson because they loved the river

    Tuesday, October 30, 2001

    A quiet person who was happier doing things than talking about them, Firefighter Kenneth Kumpel's presence was manifested in his beautiful craftsmanship -- and the pranks he played.

    The 42-year-old family man lived in Cornwall-on-Hudson, an upstate town to which he and his wife were drawn because of its location on the river. A sleek black boat, named "Batboat" in honor of their sons' favorite superhero, was the family's vehicle for enjoying the peace and beauty of the river.

    A craftsman with the skill and attention to detail of a pro, Mr. Kumpel renovated his family's former home in West Brighton, and he built their home in Cornwall. A perfectionist, he took satisfaction in the "extra details and finishing touches," said his wife, the former Nancy Gorman. Unlike many well-intentioned handymen, he avoided the procrastination that leaves so many jobs unfinished.

    Born on Long Island in New Hyde Park, Mr. Kumpel moved to West Brighton when he married in 1982. The Kumpels moved to Cornwall in 1994.

    He drove a tractor trailer before joining the New York City Police Department in 1987. In 1990, he joined the Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Co. 82, Great Kills. In the mid-1990s he transferred to Ladder Co. 52, the Bronx. And in February he transferred to Ladder Co. 25, at Amsterdam Avenue and West 77th Street in Manhattan.

    Mr. Kumpel also shared his firefighting skills as a volunteer with local fire departments, first in Long Island, then in Cornwall, as a way of giving back to his community.

    On Sept. 11, he was on duty when his firehouse was called to the World Trade Center. He is now among the missing.

    Mr. Kumpel's carpentry and mechanical skills were much appreciated in his firehouse, where he pitched in to keep things in tip-top shape. He also developed quite a reputation as a practical joker, once switching the hinges and handles on a refrigerator so it opened from the opposite side, and placing beds on soda cans, for a surprising effect when someone sat down.

    He always had time for his sons, Gregory and Carl, whether it was boating, a game of kickball or coaching organized sports of soccer or baseball. The family enjoyed vacations together at Lake George, N.Y., and recently vacationed in Florida, where they alternated between the excitement of a theme park and the calm of hanging out, swimming, and barbecuing at the condo.

    Mr. and Mrs. Kumpel periodically took off as a couple to Aruba or the Cayman Islands, where they enjoyed scuba diving.

    Mr. Kumpel also indulged in the firefighter's avocation of cooking. He was the chef in the family, according to his wife, with a finely developed palate that told him just the right ingredients to add. She might bake a chicken, but he would prepare shrimp scampi.

    "There was never a woman in the kitchen at holidays," said Mr. Kumpel's mother-in-law, Barbara Gorman. She and her husband, James, enjoyed the feasts the firefighters in the family prepared -- their son, Jim, also a firefighter, was Mr. Kumpel's friend as well as his brother-in-law.

    In addition to his wife, Nancy, and his two sons, Gregory and Carl, surviving are his mother, Lois Kumpel, and his sister, Nancy Hoffman.

    After a memorial mass on Oct. 13 in St. Thomas Canterbury R.C. Church, Cornwall, a motorcade led mourners to Donahue Park, overlooking the Hudson, where Mr. Kumpel was remembered by family, friends and colleagues in a public ceremony that culminated in the date being proclaimed Kenneth Kumpel Day in Cornwall.

    To commemorate Mr. Kumpel's love of the Hudson, an FDNY Marine Unit fireboat sprayed plumes of water, making rainbows in the air, and the Cornwall Central High School Concert Choir sang. And Mrs. Kumpel and her sons went out on the river in the "Batboat," and released wreaths into the water.

    Mr. Kumpel's son, Gregory, released a "care package" of mementos, including medals from his all-star baseball team and Tae Kwon-Do, and the oil he uses on his trumpet. Mrs. Kumpel scattered ashes from the World Trade Center site into her husband's beloved river.


    Kenneth Kumpel was a New York City police officer for four years before changing careers. He was assigned to a precinct that covered Chinatown and, later, Manhattan's infamous "Alphabet City," said his wife, Nancy Kumpel.

    But "he was always a firefighter at heart," she said.

    Kumpel, 42, was a 10-year veteran of the New York Fire Department who was part of Engine Co. 25 in Manhattan.

    A former Long Islander, Kumpel grew up in New Hyde Park and graduated from Sewanhaka High School. He and his wife of 18 years lived in Cornwall, where he was a member of the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department, said Nancy Kumpel.

    "He loved the camaraderie of it. He lived firefighting every moment of the day," she said. He is also survived by his sons, Greg, 11 and Carl, 9.
    Last edited by Chris; 01-05-2002 at 11:38 AM.

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