FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT FUNERAL SERVICE FOR FIREFIGHTER PAUL WARHOLA
Following Are the Mayor’s Remarks at St. John The Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Center Moriches, As Prepared for Delivery:
"Thank you, Monsignor. For the past few days, there's been a photo of Paul Warhola on the home page of the FDNY's web site. I imagine most of you have seen it there, or perhaps at Paul's wake, where it was on display too. But if you haven't, you should take a look at it. Because it shows Paul exactly as his brother firefighters describe him: Relaxed. Confident. The kind of man who didn't need to raise his voice in order to be heard and respected.
"He's wearing the smile that those who knew and loved him saw so often; when he was expertly guiding Engine 221 home from a run through the narrow streets of Williamsburg; when he was setting off on a dirt bike expedition with you, Paul, Jr.; or when he was piloting the fishing boat that he named in your honor, Tiana, across Moriches Bay.
"So to you, Arleen, Paul, Tiana, Mary, Shelly, Kerrie, Marilou, and Steven, and to all the neighbors, co-workers, and friends who've come here today to pray for Paul as he makes his final journey: on behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers, I want to say that we share your grief. And I also want to say how grateful, truly grateful, we are for our good fortune in having had Paul serve and protect us for these past 15 years.
"Paul's greatest gift to New York City was the role he played in rebuilding the world's greatest fire department. In just three weeks' time, we'll mark the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attack. Paul and Engine 221 raced to the World Trade Center that morning, and they arrived in time to see first one, then the other, smoking tower tumble to earth. In a few awful hours, the FDNY lost 343 men, including many of its best, most-experienced officers and firefighters. Among them was Paul's uncle, Michael Warchola, a lieutenant in Ladder Company 5.
"In the weeks and months that followed, as Paul and others picked through the rubble in Lower Manhattan, the FDNY began its own difficult process of recovery. And since 9/11, it has truly come back. In fact, for the first time since the 'Roaring 20s,' New York City has finished three straight years with fewer than 100 fire fatalities - even though we've got two million more people in our city than we did way back then.
"Paul and other FDNY veterans were crucial
to the department's rebirth. Because as its ranks filled with new members, they
needed precisely what Paul had in abundance: Patience. Wisdom. A willingness to
teach. He gave them all that and more. He was a man of famously few words.
But as one of the officers at Engine 221 put it: 'Some guys just
"So the officers and men of Engine 221 knew they could always trust Paul without a second thought. They relied on him at the fire scene. They relied on his all-around skill as a carpenter when they were looking for help with home repairs and improvements. And they relied on him for something else, too: Striped bass. Blackfish. Flounder. All the bounty of the sea that Paul caught in the waters not far from this church, and then baked, broiled, or pan-fried to perfection in the Engine 221 kitchen.
"Now, Paul's fishing mania had its price. It meant putting up with shows like 'Extreme Angler' and 'Hooking Up' when he took charge of the fire station's TV remote. And for members of Engine 221 who are prone to seasickness, memories of going out with Paul on his boat may always make your stomachs turn over.
"But it was all worth it. Because while Williamsburg has some of our city's hottest restaurants, when Paul brought in the catch of the day, the best dinners in the neighborhood were served up at the firehouse on East Second Street.
"He was, as the saying goes, a man completely at home in his own skin. And he had the wonderful gift of making others feel secure, too. Now we have to go on without him. And while it won't be easy, Paul showed us all how it's done, by working together.
"So Arleen: you're going to face some big challenges in the days to come. But you won't have to meet them alone. The FDNY is a family - one that takes care of its own, especially in times like these. They've been by your side throughout the past week. They - and we - will continue to be there for you every step of the way.
"And Paul and Tiana: My sister and I lost our father when we were just a little older than you are now. We shared the pain then. But as the years went on, we also shared the marvelous memories that he'd given us and our mother. They became more powerful and more lasting than our grief. They've drawn us together more tightly as a family. And that can happen for you, too.
"And to all those here who, as Paul did,
have sworn to protect the world's greatest city, let me say: May God not only
bless the memory of the good man we mourn today. May God also bless and protect
each of you. And may God always bless the FDNY."
Stu Loeser/Jason Post (212) 788-2958