Hanging below the traditional green street sign on Corey Lane in East Meadow is another one, a blue commemorative sign reading “Officer Francis T. Pitone Ln,” in honor of a 20-year New York Police Department officer, a first responder after the Sept. 11 attacks, who died last August.
Frank Pitone, who was 55, spent more than a year at ground zero and at the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, where debris from the World Trade Center was dumped. He later developed cancer as a result of time spent at the two sites, and his death was declared a 9/11-related illness by government officials.
Last Saturday, the Town of Hempstead officially dedicated the street, which intersects with Newbridge Road just north of Hempstead Turnpike, at a ceremony in front of more than 100 community members that included Pitone’s family, friends and dozens of NYPD officers.
Pitone was born in Brooklyn in 1958 to Anthony and Joyce Pitone, and graduated from South Side High School in Rockville Centre before settling on Corey Lane in East Meadow. He had four children: Shannon, 16, and Kyle, 15, with his widow, Linda, a retired NYPD officer, and Erik, 26, and Nicole, 22, from a previous marriage. Shannon and Kyle are students at W.T. Clarke High School.
An NYPD officer from 1985 to 2005, Pitone was stationed primarily in the Bronx with his partner, Mike Turtiano. A popular figure in the police force, Pitone was elected a delegate to New York’s Police Benevolent Association a number of times.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, who led the proceedings, reflected on Pitone’s work on Sept. 11 and in its aftermath. “He worked 12-hour shifts, sometimes more,” she said. “Sorting through the debris and remains. This was his duty. Frank was not only a heroic first responder, he was also known as a superhero dad.”
Nicole, who spoke on the family’s behalf, said her father always put others before himself. “My dad truly was a determined man,” she said. “Not even a month after starting radiation and chemotherapy, he wanted to so badly make it to my college graduation. He did.”