Pasquale Aiello, 81, an East Meadow firefighter for 39 years, beloved by his fellow volunteers and family, died on Jan. 7 when a car he was driving swerved off the Northern State Parkway and struck a tree, police said.
Born in the Bronx, Aiello was and raised by his parents, Vincent Aiello and Rosa Longobardi, who emigrated from Italy in the 1920s. His parents made a living operating a vegetable cart, but both died when Pasquale was very young. His parents’ work ethic instilled in Pasquale a great sense of self-sufficiency, said his daughter, Rose Ann Pfeiffer. “He was unbelievable,” she said. “He could do anything.”
He married Mary in 1954, and the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary last November. They moved to East Meadow in the 1970s, and relocated to Port Jefferson Station six years ago.
While working full time for the New York City Department of Sanitation, he joined the East Meadow Fire Department in the early ’70s. He became captain of Rescue Co. 5 in 1974, and in 1991, joined Hook and Ladder Co. 1.
Aiello was always a kind man who loved his family, said East Meadow firefighter John O’Brien Sr. “He was a man who always went out of his way for everyone else in the fire department,” O’Brien said.
New York State police said the accident happened shortly before 5 a.m. near exit 42, while Aiello was traveling westbound on the parkway. No one else was in his car.
Aiello remained an active full-time firefighter until his death, and Pfeiffer said he was on his way to the fire department for work when the crash happened.
“He loved, loved
, what he did,” she said. “How many of us can say that?”
He also had a passion for building things, both around the house and as a maintenance technician for the fire department. Since his teenage years, his daughter said, he had a great interest for antique cars.
The EMFD honored Aiello in grand fashion on Sunday, at the Charles O’Shea Funeral Home in East Meadow, as 150 members attended the funeral, presenting him with every honor possible. Pfeiffer said the department hung a giant American flag between two trucks outside the funeral home. “It was beautiful,” Pfeiffer said. “His grandchildren will never forget that.”
His three daughters, Lisa Dawson, Patricia Gazura and Pfeiffer are all graduates of East Meadow High School.
At the service, Pfeiffer said she was floored by how many people approached her and said kind words about her father. “I always was proud of my dad,” she said. “But the response from everyone was just unbelievable. He had a big heart and his family was everything to him.”
In addition to his wife, Mary, and three daughters, Aiello is survived by seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.