Gravesend

Gravesend corner named in memory of FDNY hero

September 29, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the Tropea family and firefighters unveil the new street sign with help from Borough President Eric Adams (left), Councilmember Mark Treyger (fourth from left) and state Sen. Marty Golden (second from right).

Firefighter William Tropea died of cancer in 2010

A Gravesend street corner now bears the name of a firefighter who worked on the recovery effort at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and who later contracted cancer.

The city officially re-named the corner of Highlawn Avenue and West 11th Street “Firefighter William ‘Billy’ Tropea Way” during a ceremony led by Councilmember Mark Treyger on Saturday. Hundreds of people, including dozens of firefighters, attended the street-renaming event.

Tropea died of cancer in 2010.

His widow, Janet Tropea, addressed the crowd, telling the firefighters, dignitaries and her neighbors that her family was honored by the tribute to her late husband.

“Co-naming West 11th Street at Highlawn Avenue in my husband’s name was a true honor. He was a man who led his [life] helping others in any way he possibly could. My family, including our daughter Samantha, son-in-law Joe, grandson Joseph and son Billy are extremely proud, grateful and blessed to have had Billy in our lives,” she said.

Tropea also said she hoped her husband’s street sign would serve as an inspiration for people to show acts of kindness to one another.

“Whenever someone drives or walks past this sign, please remember to show an act of kindness that day, as Billy did every day of his life,” she said.

Treyger (D-Gravesend-Coney Island-Bensonhurst) called Firefighter Tropea “a great individual,” and said the street sign will ensure that his life and legacy will be honored for generations to come. Treyger sponsored the legislation in the council that paved the way for the new street sign to be installed.

“By all accounts, Billy was a remarkable person who was committed to helping others however possible, whether as a member of the FDNY or simply as a great neighbor. It was also great to see so many of Billy’s friends and nearly the entire block take the time to remember this great individual,” Treyger said.

He was born on July 14, 1956, and was raised in Gravesend. He attended P.S. 215, David A. Boody Intermediate School, John Dewey High School and Brooklyn College. He began his career as a New York City firefighter in 1987 and served for more than two decades at various firehouses, including Engine 245, Ladder 161 and Battalion 43 in Coney Island as a firefighter and aide to the battalion chief.

His family and friends described him as an accomplished pianist, competitive athlete, handyman, gardener and dedicated family man.

At the Sept. 27 ceremony, Tropea’s family and friends shared stories about the ways he helped others, including complete strangers, without ever seeking the spotlight.

The ceremony featured the FDNY Color Guard and FDNY Emerald Society Pipes & Drums.

Following the remarks from Janet Tropea, family friends Chris Bruno, Robert Glynn and Lt. Michael Duran, and West 11th Street Block Association President George Frenzel joined the Tropea family, Treyger, Borough President Eric Adams and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) to unveil the new sign.

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