Firefighter Thomas Foley

 

 

 

 

Friends of Thomas "Tommy" Foley said he always lived life to the fullest.

He was a rodeo rider. He skiied. He hunted. He was into sky diving. A former college football player, he kept himself in top shape and was good-looking enough to be named to People Magazine's sexiest men lists - not once but twice. And as one colleague said, "All the women loved Tommy."

But the thing that Foley, 32, loved most was fighting fires and saving people.

"He'd come out of a fire, filthy, coughing, covered in black soot and when he'd see you he'd have that big smile on his face and a big 'hello' for you," said John Coyle, a firefighter for Ladder Company 14. "He was a real good fireman. He just loved it."

Foley, who worked for the Rescue 3 squad on East 176th Street in the Bronx, will be among the 14 firefighters who will have funerals or memorial services Saturday. His brother, Danny Foley, a firefighter who searched at Ground Zero for Tommy Foley, was with the group that found his remains.

To his friends, it came as no surprise that Foley was among the men who charged into the Twin Towers after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

"He'd be the guy leading the charge into the fire," one firefighter, who didn't want to give his name, said at Foley's wake in West Nyack Friday afternoon. "That's just the kind of guy Tommy was."

In August 1999, Foley made headlines after being lowered by rope from the roof of a 12-story building in Manhattan to save two construction workers whose scaffolding had collapsed.

But it was Foley's face, not his heroic feats, that earned him the most publicity.

First he was named by People magazine as one of the sexiest "Men@Work." Then in June 2000, Foley landed at number 10 of People's list of the Top 100 eligible bachelors, along with the likes of heartthrobs George Clooney and Derek Jeter.

"I used to love to break his chops about that all the time," Coyle said. "Everyone did. I was with my mom once when I saw him and I introduced her, 'Mom, this is one of the sexiest men alive. What do you think of that?' He blushed. He was always very bashful about it."

Retired firefighter Mark Kwalwasser, 45, said Foley was "just a sweetheart of a kid who was very happy and loved the job.

"If Tommy had to go, I think this is the way he would want it - to go out helping people."
 

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