Joseph Rivelli, Lad.25 By:Jeff Lipton After serving for 18 years as a dedicated New York City firefighter, Joseph Rivelli Jr. of Inwood was holding on for two more years before he wanted to retire and follow his dream to move to Florida and become a commercial airline pilot. His dream ended abruptly in the nightmare of Tuesday, Sept. 11. He was one of the first firefighters to arrive at the World Trade Center after it was attacked by terrorists. As a member of the search-and-rescue team for Ladder Company 25 on the upper west side of Manhattan, he rushed into the second tower to be hit and apparently was riding the elevator to the 40th floor when the 110-story building collapsed, burying him and six fellow firefighters under tons of rubble and debris. Although his body had not yet been recovered, Rivelli was presumed dead, one of about 6,000 casualties after terrorists hijacked crashed two of four hijacked planes into the Twin Towers. When the second tower was hit, Rivelli, 43, and a father of two, was on the phone with wife Cheryl, who recalled his chilling account. Oh God, the second tower was just hit, he told his wife. It sounds like sabotage. I have to go. I love you. Be careful, she said. I’m always careful, he replied. That was the last she heard from her husband. There was no hope for my husband, Cheryl Rivelli said from her Westcott Street home on Friday afternoon. He was one of the first into the elevator going up. And it was the first building to go down. All I could hope for is that my husband went fast and didn’t suffer. That’s all I’m hoping for. My husband is running into the building when everyone else is running out of it, she said. But I’m not resentful. He was doing his job and he knew the dangers of the job. He was dedicated and always careful. Rivelli was well known in his Inwood neighborhood, where the Rivelli name has become synonymous with civil service. Several of his relatives have joined the ranks of the police and fire departments. But he was also known as Coach Joe, coaching the 12-year-old boys on the Inwood Buccaneers football team. He coached football with me, said a cousin, Michael Rivelli. All the kids liked Coach Joe. He was a straight-up person, a dynamite guy. As a firefighter, he was a professional. We were more than just family. We were best friends. We went away every year together. He’s going to be missed, really missed. Joseph Rivelli was also known as a handyman, fixing computers and scanners. Cheryl Rivelli said his work area is littered with parts from computers that he was fixing. Joe and Cheryl Rivelli, who is a secretary at Lawrence Middle School, had been together as soulmates for nine years. He was the best and the most caring person, she said. He was extraordinarily sensitive for a man. I guess he’s seen too much. She said she had been after him to retire and to move the family to Florida, but he wanted to finish his last two years. She said he had been taking flight-training courses and was continually practicing on a flight simulator in hopes of becoming a pilot after he retired from the city fire department. Ironically, he had been reviewing material from the flight training school in Florida where two of the hijackers took courses. She said members of his department have visited her a number of times since the attack and try to comfort her. They understand. They’re brothers. They come to my house and they cry along with me. It’s their family. Even though she knows the inevitable, that Joseph probably is not coming home, she said, I can’t sleep. I walk the floors all night long. I just pace with his picture in my arms. I know everybody says he’s a hero, he’s a hero. Quite honestly, I wish he were home with me right now. 5 Towners feel pain Like most of New York, the Five Towns has been hit hard by the terrorist attack on the financial center. Kevin O’Rourke of Hewlett, a volunteer firefighter with the Hewlett Fire Department, is still missing at the World Trade Center site after he rushed into the building as a member of Fire Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn. In addition, Thomas Jurgens, a member of the Meadowmere Park Fire Department, was helping lead victims out of a tower as a member of the New York State court officers when he was trapped by the crumbling building. Both are presumed dead. The Rev. Earle W. Pratt Jr., rector of Trinity-St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hewlett, said about 100 people attended a memorial service at the church on Thursday, Sept. 13, because a number of parishioners have lost loved ones. Pratt said the wife of a parishioner from Inwood is missing a brother, and the daughter of a parishioner from Cedarhurst is missing a fiancŽ. Also, at least 40 people are missing who are friends and colleagues of parishioners or are members of the church, he said. The bodies of four others have been recovered and identified. It is very sad, he said. This [attack] has increased their sense for the need for God and the need for one another. This is an assault on religion and faith. If they [terrorists] can bring us down spiritually, they got us. My message to parishioners is they are not going to do that. Senator searches for friend State Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo (R-8th District) said he was involved in an intensive search for a family friend, Morton Frank, 31, of Manhattan, whose family was well known in the Five Towns. Morton Frank was working for Cantor Fitzgerald as a bond trader when the towers were attacked. He was full of life. When he walked into a room, he let it out, Fuschillo said. As much as I can, I was trying to help the family. This is devastating. The senator’s wife, Ellen, a Lawrence High School graduate who grew up in North Woodmere, was a close friend of Frank’s sister Rhonda. Frank’s popularity was clearly evident when hundreds turned out for a memorial service for him in Central Park last week, the senator said.