New York Times Portraits of Grief

Robert Parro

"At the firehouse they called him Little Man," Robert Parro's brother John said. "Because he was kind of the smallest guy there, but when he got on the fire truck, they said he grew like six inches." He was born to be a firefighter, his mother, Virginia Parro, recalled. A firefighter, and a helper. On his days off, he worked as a handyman, and his friends and neighbors benefited from his expertise.

"He'd be the first person there to help you," said John Daly of Levittown, N.Y., who grew up there with Mr. Parro. "Anything to do in the house, sheetrocking a room, something with plumbing, all you had to do was call and he was there."

Mr. Parro, 35, and Mr. Daly were part of a group of about 10 couples in Levittown who would travel together. It started with the guys camping or hunting together, then later everyone went to Acapulco or the Bahamas. The group even joined Mr. Daly on his honeymoon.

Once children arrived -- Mr. Parro leaves a wife, Karen, and a son, John, 4 -- the gang began going up to Lake George.

"It's going to be tough this year," Mr. Daly said. "We want to go. We want to still do that."