U.S. Marine Corps
1966 - 1970
Joe was born on March 22, 1949. Son of Frank and Christine Grzelak. Brother
of Christine Galard. Husband to Joanne and father to Kristie Perrotta and Debra Lauro.
Joe grew up on Faber St. and Post Ave in Port Richmond. He graduated from P.S. 20 and Brooklyn Technical High School. Upon graduation he enlisted in the Marine Corps, having to get his parent’s consent because he was underage. Joe served as a Sergeant in the Marines from 1966-1970. A Vietnam Veteran serving from 1968-1969.
After his discharge Joe worked at Western Electric until 1973 when he became a NYC firefighter. He married his wife Joanne on March 9, 1974, had his 1st child in 1976 and in 1977 bought a house on Beekman St. and in 1978 his second child was born.
As a young boy he played baseball at West Shore Little League, where he is a part of a memorial dedicated to past players who were killed on 9/11. Joe continued playing softball for Forest Gardens at the Goodhue field for many years and coached his daughter’s team at St. Roch’s school from 1986-1992. He also enjoyed bowling and an annual Bowlathon was held (until the Covid Pandemic) in his memory to raise money for scholarships for students in need. Joe enjoyed hunting and had just taken up golf. Joe was fascinated with trivia, especially historical facts earning a nickname of “Joe Knows” from his fellow firefighters.
Joe worked his way up the ranks of the FDNY: promoted to a Lieutenant in 1983; a Captain in 1987; a Battalion Chief in 1998. He received 2 citations for rescues he made off duty. Joe’s career was cut short when he was killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. His nephews have since followed in his footsteps by becoming firefighters.
Joe loved his family, his friends, being a firefighter, the Marines and his country! He was truly a hero in every sense of the word.
Sponsored by Joanne Grzelak