Michael Lynch: Lightening the Mood

In a family of 10 children like the Lynches -- this one Democrat, that one Republican, some of them independents -- disagreements happen. And at family dinners, Michael, the seventh oldest, was peacemaker. He would don a silly hat, utter a one-liner, and "they would just realize we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously," said his father, Jack.

Michael Lynch, 31, was a firefighter with Ladder Company 32 in the Bronx, and diffused the tension there too. Every time a Federal Express truck drove by station, he would yell, "WILSON!" and run after it like Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." Out on call, he would scream at his friend Bill Owens from the back of the truck, "O-WEN!"