A hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a former Queens state senator and his brother are still trying to preserve the memories of the victims, including three family members. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
For Serphin and Vincent Maltese, the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire hits close to home. Their grandmother, Caterina Maltese, and her two teenage daughters, Rosaria and Luchea, all perished.
Both men were not alive at the time but growing up they heard about and saw records of the horror.
"The death certificates when ultimately we saw them listed them as charred," said Serphin Maltese.
It was a devastating loss for his grandfather Serafino, a shoemaker, who arranged for his family to move to the United States from Italy in 1907.
"My grandfather's family was cut in half and my father was an infant of five years old, my uncle was 14 so they were essentially without a woman in house," said Vincent Maltese.
The tragedy happened 100 years ago, but the Maltese brothers have spent the last 50 years trying to preserve their memory through the Triangle Fire Memorial Association.
"Which was kind of a looseknit group of mainly family members, not only us but some other family members. But over the years the people are very elderly and it dwindled down," said Serphin Maltese.
The group saw a jump in membership after joining Facebook a year and a half ago. Now there are more than 1,500 members from around the world.
"We've been able to get together with other family members. One specifically is Jane Fazio, who was the great niece of Joseph Zito who was the heroic elevator operator," said Serphin Maltese.
These days the men are working on a memorial site at Calvary Cemetery to honor the victims who were mostly immigrant women. The plan is to dedicate a monument to them this summer.