Robert Joseph Foti: Always Helping
Joseph Foti and his wife, Mary Grace, were driving home
to Albertson from Old Westbury Gardens in August when
they spotted an elderly woman in an old jalopy, stranded
with a flat tire.
Foti got out of his car and spent two hours prying off
the flat and replacing it with the spare. After he
finished, the woman called him an angel and offered him
$10 for his services. Foti refused, but the woman
insisted. He took the money, but snuck it into her purse
when she wasn't looking, his wife recalled recently.
"That was just the type of guy he was," she said. "He
was always helping people."
Foti's mother-in-law, Irene Tastor of Melville, said
after seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last year
with his family, Foti drove to her home, mashed the
potatoes, carved the turkey and cleaned up after dinner.
"He was always there," Tastor said.
Foti, 42, a member of Ladder Co. 7, Engine Co. 16 in
Manhattan, was last heard from at 8:40 a.m. on Sept. 11,
when he told his wife he was getting ready to leave work
at 9 a.m., after working an overnight shift.
"They just got married in May," Tastor said. The two
met in 1995. Mary Grace was stopped at a red light, and
so was Foti, who was sitting in the back of a
"I waved to him, and he told me to go to 29th Street,"
his wife said. "I went, and he took me out to lunch the
next day. We actually met on Dec. 5, 1995. He became a
firefighter on Dec. 5, 1988."
In his spare time, Foti liked to fish and go deep-sea
diving, his wife said. The couple spent time in Jamaica
last June, she said. "He had a really good time. He took
advantage of everything. Cliff diving, water skiing,
diving. I just watched. He was very adventurous and
outgoing. He liked to take risks. I guess that probably
explains why he became a firefighter."
His wife said the time that has passed since the
attack has done little to help her grief. "The more time
that has passed, the harder it gets, the longer it has
been since I've heard his voice," she said. "Things that
were clear aren't so clear anymore. They say it has to
get harder before it gets better. I guess that's where I
am right now."