Thousands turned out Monday at the funeral for Fire Chief Timothy Stackpole, a firefighter who escaped death once and returned to the job he loved before losing his life in the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filied this report.
The crowd was fitting for a man even Mayor Rudolph Giuliani described as "larger than life."
Thousands turned out Monday for the funeral of Fire Captain Timothy Stackpole, who died in the line of duty September 11 during the World Trade Center collapse.
"He was in fact one of the most exceptional human beings I've ever met," said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "I fit him in the category of some of the real heroes that I have."
"He was an inspiration to everybody, really," said Fire Chief George Idiart.
In 1998, Stackpole escaped death while fighting a five-alarm fire in East New York. That fire took the lives of two of his fellow firefighters and left him badly burned.
After a long rehabilitation, he returned to the job.
"He was an outstanding member of the department," said retired Deputy Chief Joseph Doughney. "He could have been retired a long time ago from the injuries he had suffered before. But only a very short time ago he decided to put the uniform back on."
His decision to go back to work didn't surprise anyone.
"This was his life. He loved it," said a friend.
Stackpole wasn't only considered an extraordinary firefighter, but also a great father, husband and basketball and swimming coach.
"He was always with the kids," said Louise Sullivan, a family friend, "always with the church, strong in his faith. [He had a] strong marriage, very strong - one of the best."
Stackpole leaves behind his wife and their five children.