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Even though he was retired from the New York City Fire Department, Brooklyn−born−and−bred Anthony Incarbone came back to New York after 9⁄11 to help with the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
Just eight years later, and some six months after he learned he was ill, Incarbone was dead at age 51, a victim of cancer that had spread throughout his body −− a possible result of time spent laboring at the site of the terrorist attacks and inhaling toxic dust.
Now, Incarbone’s friends and fellow firefighters have gotten together to help his family, who live in Florida, meet their expenses. Incarbone’s pension −− limited because of his early retirement due to disability −− died with him, leaving his widow and children facing the possibility of losing their home.
A fundraiser to help Incarbone’s family will be held on Saturday, May 16, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Bishop Ford High School, 500 19th Street, following an 11 a.m. memorial mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, East Fifth Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway.
For a $20 donation at the door, attendees will enjoy food and beverages, including beer, as well as music.
The goal, said organizers, is to get as large a crowd as possible to attend the benefit, which they describe as a “one−time event” to assist Incarbone’s family “in their time of need.”
The event evolved from a request made by Incarbone, said Louie De Biase, one of his closest friends. “He wanted a memorial mass in Brooklyn,” noted De Biase, “and he wanted everyone to get together after the mass.”
Incarbone, who grew up on Greenwood Avenue in Windsor Terrace, served with the FDNY for 13 years, from 1982 to 1995, as a member of Engine Company 284, at the Castle on the Hill in Dyker Heights, and as a member of Ladder Company 113, on Rogers Avenue.
An injury to his knee forced him to retire, but, said friends, that didn’t stop him from helping others. Besides returning to New York after 9⁄11, Incarbone fought the wildfires that raged in Florida’s Volusia County in 1998, they said.
“He died too young,” remarked De Biase, who recalled that they had known each other about 41 years, having met playing roller hockey at Avenue F and McDonald Avenue. “He was a great person. He was everybody’s best man.”
Indeed, recalled De Biase, the message inside a fortune cookie that he opened on the day that Incarbone was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer became a sort of leitmotif for the final months of his friend’s life. The scrap of paper −− which De Biase kept −− read, “Everybody feels lucky to have you as a friend.”
“I sent a copy to him,” De Biase confided, “and I put a copy in his casket.”
Fellow firefighters recognized his passion for his work. “He had a hard time not being a firefighter,” one firefighter friend recalled. “Like any athlete, he didn’t want to stop even though he was injured.” After 9⁄11, the friend added, “He was up there (at Ground Zero) in a heartbeat, helping out. He spent 60 to 90 days on the pile. He was a true hero.”
Incarbone left behind his wife, Liz, and four children.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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