9/11: A Tribute
This meager effort will surely not assuage the grief and pain felt by Dennis Cross' family, but it is hoped will provide a small glimpse of the man known as "Captain Fearless". I do not know this man, but upon reading his biography and the touching notes left by his grieving family, I can honestly say I wish I had known him, as he so clearly made those around him better people just by his presence. He is and will continue to be missed. Prayers and condolences to his family and friends and likewise to all those who lost loved ones five years ago.
Dennis Cross was a man who made a living running into burning buildings while everyone else was running out. He would probably say it was not only his duty, but his honor to do so. He saved lives, as did many others that day. Let us celebrate his life.
Name: Dennis A. Cross
Residence: Islip Terrace, NY, United States
Occupation: battalion chief, New York Fire Department
Location: World Trade Center
To my uncle, my hero. What can I say about a man who truly loved his family and loved his job almost as much? You will never be forgotten. I was always proud of you, and on September 11 you had the opportunity to show the world how brave and heroic you really were. You always told me that you never let your "boys" go in alone and you didn't. I am so proud of you and your "brothers" for the strength and courage firefighters possess to run into the buildings as we run out. I think about you every day, and you are truly missed by all. I love you and miss you. Forever in my heart."Captain Fearless":
Barbara E. Cross, niece
Dennis A. Cross was the Fire Department of New York's 57 battalion chief in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He had been on the job since January 1964, after serving in the U.S. Army. On September 11, he was working in the 11th division in Manhattan as an acting deputy chief. He was found on September 18 under the remains of the south tower. Dennis A. Cross was laid to rest on September 22. He Loved to fight fires, run and sail on the Great South Bay. He enjoyed the many simple pleasures in life including chocolate, strawberry ice cream, a hot meal and a good beer. He is survived by his wife JoAnn Doria Cross; children: Lisa (Cross) Wylie, Laura (Cross) Sheppard, New York firefighter Brian Cross, Denise J. Cross; sons and daughter-in-law: Lori (Marfoglio) Cross, Scott Wylie and Marty Sheppard; and grandchildren Austin Wylie, Vincent A. Sheppard, A.J. Sheppard and 'baby Cross' due in February 2002. Brother Charles Cross and sister Virginia (Cross) Fredriksen.
Laura A. Sheppard, daughter
At age 60, Dennis Cross had spent nearly two-thirds of his life as a firefighter in New York City.
And retirement wasn't on his calendar anytime soon.
"He wanted to be the first to put in 50 years on the job," said JoAnn Cross, his wife of 37 years.
Along with so many of his brethren, Cross' career was cut short Sept. 11. The battalion chief for Battalion 57, based in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, was killed when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
His body wasn't recovered until a week later.
"The first three days it was more than hell," said his wife. "When they found him on the seventh day, that was such a relief because we could bring him home. So many of our friends haven't been able to do that."
As is common in the profession, fighting fires was a family affair. Cross' father, Charles, was a New York firefighter, as is his only son, Brian.
Cross joined the department in 1963 after returning home from a two-year tour in Vietnam, where he served in an Army communications unit, JoAnn Cross said.
In the department, Cross was widely admired as a gutsy firefighter and, later, as a respected leader.
"He was a quiet guy, but powerful," JoAnn Cross said. "When he made captain, they called him Captain Fearless."
He was promoted to battalion chief in 1993.
A frequent runner who kept himself in excellent shape, Cross was looking forward to competing in an annual 5K race around the Thanksgiving holiday in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Now, JoAnn Cross hopes to turn the race into a fundraiser for a local charity that aids burn victims.
Cross is also survived by three daughters and three grandchildren.
An estimated 3,000 mourners, mostly firefighters, attended Cross' funeral Sept. 22 in Islip Terrace, Long Island, where he lived.
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