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Retired Fireman Loved Reading, Horse Racing
October 19, 2001

Philip Hayes of East Northport used to make his grandchildren laugh with sayings like, "See you 'round like a doughnut," whenever he left a room, or with "knock, knock" jokes that came without warning, said his daughter, Virginia McDermott of Williston Park. "He always told bad jokes," she said, "but he made people laugh."

Hayes, a fire safety inspector, was called to duty after the first plane flew into One World Trade Center, said his son, Philip Hayes Jr., of Downey, Calif. "We always took for granted that he was coming home," his son said. "He went and fought fires and came home."

Philip Hayes, 67, has been missing since Sept. 11.

The second of 16 children, Hayes was born in Brooklyn in 1934. He attended St. Agnes Catholic School there. He was married in 1952 and worked for a customs brokerage from 1952 to 1959. He became a firefighter with Engine Co. 217 in Brooklyn in 1959.

The men of 217, according to Hayes' son, were known for their camaraderie and took pride in being a part of the company. "None of the guys in 217 ever wanted to be relocated because of the closeness they felt with the guys in the firehouse," Philip Hayes Jr. said.

Hayes retired from the fire department 20 years after he first joined, his son said, and went back to work for a customs brokerage from 1979 until 1995. When a position for an on-site fire safety inspector at the World Trade Center opened up in 1995, Hayes couldn't pass it up. "He still had badge number 6366 in his heart," his son said.

The family has gone through numerous stages of grief since Sept. 11, his son said. "First there was the horror, then we had hope. Then we had the realization that he was in the building. Then we had the acceptance. It's a long, painful process."

Hayes' daughter, McDermott, said her father loved to read books and watch horse racing. He was more than a father to her, she said. "He was a friend. I loved him, but I liked him, too."

Hayes is also survived by his wife, Virginia, of East Northport; daughters Theresa O'Gara of East Northport and Laura Froehlich of Smithtown, and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. tomorrow at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church of Padua in East Northport.

--Nick Iyer (Newsday)

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