New York Times Portraits of Grief

Anthony Desperito

A 2,000-pound boulder behind a high school soccer field on Long Island reads: In memory of a hero, a husband, a father, a coach, a board member and a friend.

It was dedicated to Lt. Anthony Desperito, 43, of the New York Fire Department, who coached soccer at Bellport High School. Seniors who were on the soccer team receive scholarship awards in his name.

Lieutenant Desperito, who lived in East Patchogue, N.Y., also coached the soccer team of his 11-year-old son, Anthony. He was equally as active in the lives of his other children, Nicole, 14, and David, 7.

''Do you know how to make Dad's Chicken McGuinness?'' his wife, Laura Desperito, said the children ask. The dish is named for McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he used to be stationed. ''I tell them that he knew all the recipes by heart,'' Mrs. Desperito said. The couple would have celebrated their 20th anniversary on Sept. 25.

''He was such a romantic,'' Mrs. Desperito said. ''He proposed to me on Rockaway Beach, where we always used to take long walks on the jetties. He didn't let me open the box near the water because he was afraid it would fall in the water.''

During his final hours, Lieutenant Desperito escorted a woman to safety from the north tower of the World Trade Center, and then ran back inside to search for more.