Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Raymond Meisenheimer

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

Each person will pay tribute to a single victim. They will be honored by remembering their lives,
rather than simply remembering their murderers.

Raymond Meisenheimer, 46, West Babylon, N.Y.

Jurisdiction: Bronx
Rank: Firefighter
Agency: FDNY
Unit: Rescue 3
Funeral Information:
Memorial Service held Friday, October 5

On September 11, 2001, Raymond Meisenheimer was two months away from retiring after 20 years of service with the New York City Fire Department.

He and his wife Joanne, their daughters Lauren and Kaitlynn were planning on moving from West Babylon, N.Y. to Holtsville .

Joanne and Raymond had been having the house of their dreams built for his retirement. He had the new patio penciled in, right down to individual flowers and placement of the Jacuzzi. The family had joked that when Ray, a do-it-yourselfer, finished the basement in their new home it would be the "He-Man Woman-Hater's Club" -- a reference to the fact that the whole family was girls and it would be the only haven for the single male of the family. But in all seriousness, the family was looking forward to his actually being home finally on evenings and weekends and during holidays.

Raymond, a West Babylon Class of 1973 graduate, was a fire chief's son. When he was a teenager, fooling around on a motorized racing team in East Farmingdale with his buddy Gerald Murtha, there was always a sense of purpose related to their friendship. Both Murtha and Meisenheimer joined the Engine Co. 222 firehouse in Bedford-Stuyvesant, then moved to the elite Rescue 3 Co. in the Bronx and got teaching jobs at the Suffolk Fire Academy in Yaphank.

Mutha described Ray's life as "work, family, work, family, work, family." Meisenheimer was a leader in local and state efforts to plan for events like September 11, and was a leading authority on technical rescue problems like trench collapses. He was just ending his shift on September 11, 2001, when the call came in and he rushed to the scene.

Meisenheimer didn't just enjoy joking with his wife and daughters, but also enjoyed a good ribbing with his colleagues and buddies at work. In 2000, Meisenheimer and a few other New York City firefighters cheerfully took on a weight loss challenge on Good Morning America. He began a serious regimen of exercise, eating well, enjoying a healthier lifestyle and resisting the chocolate donuts that some colleagues jokingly brought in some mornings to tempt him with.

The firefighters who escaped the World Trade Center attack said that they would bring Meisenheimer back to where he belonged. His wife and family finished the dream house and followed through with the basement and patio plans just the way that Ray wanted.

Raymond Meisenheimer, friend, husband, father, teacher, hero, didn't lose his life on September 11, 2001, he gave it.

"The Sun" poster, Sept 11th victim tribute poster, available to order


MamaKBear said...

Mark, you've done a wonderful job honoring Ray in your tribute! I have always had a deep admiration and love for firefighters, and it always saddens me to hear of one lost doing what they loved to others.

Rest in Peace, Ray. I will never forget!

My tribute is for Mr. Daniel Lugo. Please stop by!

Sheri said...

Beautiful tribute to an amazing man. Thank you for writing this and for sharing with us.

Rainypete said...

Excellent job Mark! Another fine post in the legion of bloggers that have untaken this monumental task. Good for you!

They will never be gone so long as they are remembered.

Just Me said...

A very beautiful tribute to Raymond. I have two sons who are fire fighters.

My tribute is to Sheila Hein is here...

A tribute to Lisa Egan is at

lime said...

i've been reading through several of these today, mark. i was doing ok until i read your last line because it exactly sums up all the rescue workers who died that day.

he didn't loose his life, he gave it

thank you.

going off for a tissue now.

Fran said...

A great tribute! I am certain his loss is still as great today as it was five years ago to his family. It is so nice that he is being remembered for the greatest act of courage - a true hero.

Georganna Hancock M.S. said...

What a great post, and a great project. I wish I had known about it before, so I could have participated, too.

Anonymous said...

I watched the 9/11 movie about the firefighters last night. The one where the French brothers were filming a documentary about rookies firefighters and just happened to be "in the right place, at the right time" in terms of catching the bravery of so many first hand.

Anyway, at the end of the movie, they did a montage of the pictures of all the firefighters that were lost that day. Believe it or not, among all the pictures shown (they were in groups of four) I remember Raymond Meisenheimer's face.

I think this project was a fabulous way to pay tribute to everyone that this world lost on that terrible day.

Thanks for letting us share a part of Ray's life, Mark.

Robin said...

Thanks for doing this. I mean that.

Sergeants of Squish said...

I love all these, I found it such a daunting task. You've done a wonderful job.

gordaboo said...

Thank you for sharing your tribute to Mark and giving a face and heart to a name. I luvd your last line. So true.

We will never forget

I remember Lisa Egan

Mantaray Ocean said...

Thank You

Cathy said...

9/13/2008-- beautifully written. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Hello Mark,

My husband, Luke Gearhard, is a firefighter in Westminster, Colorado. This is his second year participating in a 9-11 stair climb in remembrance of those that were lost. The stair climb gives 343 firefighters throughout the state the opportunity to pull on their bunker gear, put their masks on, grab their tools, and take one picture of each rescue worker that was lost in 9-11 and climb a 55 story building in downtown Denver - twice - for a total of 110 stories.

Last year, in 2009, before starting up the building stairs, my husband was given a 1x2 inch black and white picture of Raymond Meisenheimer. He tucked the picture inside his helmet, and the fingertips of his gloves ran across the scrap metal that was taken from the towers and formed into a cross, as he 342 other firefighters walked through the doorway of the stairwell and started quietly up the stairs, their tools in hand.

He brought the picture home to show our 5 and 8 year old kids. We looked for Firefighter Meisenheimer online and learned about his career, his family, and some of the things that he loved. We spent a long time together reading about everything that we could find that had been written or printed about him. It was the first time that 9-11 truly hit home for our kids. The impact was significant, to say the least.

Luke participated in the climb again early this morning and received the photo of Firefighter Jeffrey P. Walz as he began up the stairs. This afternoon, we reviewed all of the information we could find in honor of Firefighter Walz. We then pulled out the wrinkled photo of Firefighter Meisenheimer and searched the internet to see if we might be able to find more information about him, as well.

I am glad to have found your site and to be able to share the impact that Firefighter Meisenheimer has made on our family over the last year. Both our kids were disappointed that Dad couldn’t be at their first soccer game of the year today and when they realized it was 9-11 and Dad was headed to join the firefighters downtown and climb in remembrance of those lost - it was a quick and easy shift and understanding of what is most important to us all.

Thank you for what you’ve done here. We appreciate the opportunity to express our gratitude. Please know that we will continue to honor Firefighter Meisenheimer and his family.

Warmest regards,

Amy Gearhard and family

Mark Leslie said...


What an absolutely wonderful way your husband's team is choosing to remember and celebrate Raymond and Jeffrey and other heroes.

And how beautiful that you took the time to learn about them and their lives with your entire family and also to share your heart-warming thoughts and memories here. It's incredible to see that the memories of these special people are still having a positive impact.

THANK YOU for that!