Street dedicated to 9/11 first responder
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A devoted Mets fan, Pitone coached Little League baseball in East Meadow, as well as his own children’s sports teams, for more than 20 years. Even when his cancer was taking its toll, Murray said, he drove with his family to South Carolina — a 13-hour trip — for one of Kyle’s baseball tournaments.
Among the crowd at the ceremony were the members of Clarke’s varsity and junior varsity baseball teams, a show of support for Kyle, a JV player. “Clarke baseball is a program,” said Chris Ramkissoon, a senior. “We all support each other as a family.”
Justin Luces, who played Little League baseball for Pitone, recalled how he always encouraged him to do his best. “He taught me more than just baseball,” said Justin, 15. “He taught me how to be a person. I can’t forget him.”
Pitone was an avid fisherman, according to his family, loved spending time with his two dogs, Ozzie and Coco, and enjoyed keeping up with his favorite television shows, especially HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Linda’s cousin Pat McKeon said that Frank spent as much time as he could with family during his retirement. “He’s just an amazing guy,” said McKeon, who lives in West Islip. “He’d help anybody.”
New York Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch reminded the gathering that while the memory of Sept. 11 has faded for some, it never will for NYPD officers and their families, who, like the Pitones, still feel the effects of that fateful day. “For the New York City police officer,” Lynch said, “it will never fade into memory. For those that were there, it lives on forever.”
According to a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of March 5, 2,234 people who are enrolled in the CDC’s World Trade Center Health Program have contracted cancer. That total, the spokeswoman said, included first responders and survivors.
Town Councilman Gary Hudes said that the new street sign would keep Pitone’s memory alive, even for those who never knew him. “This street naming will always inspire questions,” Hudes said. “People driving through this neighborhood will notice this street sign and will ask, ‘Who is Frank Pitone?’
“Frank Pitone,” Hudes concluded, “was a true American hero deserving of this honor.”