Steven C. Mosiello, who served as the right-hand man to the chief of the New York City Fire Department on Sept. 11, 2001, kept his sense of humor even through chemotherapy.
Sitting inside a Manhasset clinic this spring, Mosiello, 58, joked he wouldn't die of cancer, but that he'd be shot by a jealous boyfriend.
Ginger, his wife of 23 years, laughed at her husband's quips. "That was him," she said. "He would say something like that."
Laughter, Mosiello said, helped him deal with physical discomfort. He had just lost his hair -- he shaved it rather than let it keep falling out -- and his body was failing him.
Over the past few weeks at home in Massapequa, he planned his funeral and wrote letters to his family, apologizing to his daughters for not living long enough to one day walk them down the aisle.
Diagnosed with esophageal cancer in October 2009, he died Friday morning at the Hospice Inn in Melville. The cancer, which had spread to his stomach, lymph nodes and liver, is classified by the FDNY as presumed to be linked to the 9/11 aftermath.
Mosiello was a fire marshal from 1979 to 2002 and was one of the first responders to Ground Zero. He worked side by side with former Chief Peter J. Ganci Jr., as the executive officer of the chief of the department. Ganci was killed on Sept. 11 when the south tower collapsed.
"I knew where Pete was," Mosiello recalled nearly 10 years later. "We dug him out and I came home and told his wife and family."
Even after the tragedy and loss of 9/11, Mosiello adored his job, his wife said.
"He would leave for work with a smile on his face," she said. "It was never a chore."
But the attack haunted him, and he retired in 2002.
Al Hagan, president of The Uniformed Fire Officers Association, knew Mosiello personally and praised his work. He was a dedicated firefighter and fire marshal who gave the better part of his adult life to the City of New York, Hagan said.
Daniel Nigro served as the chief of the FDNY after Ganci's death. Mosiello stayed on in the same position for a full year after the attacks.
It was the toughest in the department's history, Nigro said. The FDNY had just lost 343 people in a single day.
"We dealt with so many sensitive issues, and Steve did it with great humanity," Nigro said. "He never complained."
And just as critical to his professional legacy was his ability to make and keep friends, Nigro said. "There will be 20 people at the funeral who will think they were Steve's best friend," he said. "And in a way, they all were."
A Brooklyn native, Mosiello was an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and coached PAL basketball for 11 years.
Besides his wife, he is survived by sons Steven Mosiello II and Ryan Mosiello; and daughters Nicole and Alexandra, all of Farmingdale.
Visiting will be Sunday and Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at McCourt & Trudden Funeral Home, 385 Main St. in Farmingdale.
The funeral Mass will be offered Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. at St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church, 485 Conklin St. in Farmingdale.