Oftentimes after a snowstorm, Liz Carbonaro would look out the window of her Oakdale home and see Joseph Meeker, the young man who had grown up next door, shoveling her driveway.
No one had asked him to do this -- he just did it.
And at an Oceanside High School football game, old friends described Kenneth Healey's calm, even-keeled temperament, his likable personality. Perfect for a cop, they said.
Across Long Island, neighbors and friends paid tribute Friday to two freshly graduated NYPD officers who were hospitalized Thursday after being attacked by a man with a hatchet on a busy Queens street.
In both Oakdale and Oceanside, they described young men with close ties to their communities -- men who had faced personal tragedies early in their young lives, and were imbued with a sense of duty and responsibility to care for others.
Carbonaro said Meeker was always mowing someone's lawn or blowing snow from their driveway, without asking anything in return.
Meeker was in his early teens, the youngest with two older sisters, when his father died and he became the man of the house, she said.
Since his late teens, Meeker, 24, had talked about becoming an NYPD officer, she said. "He was always that type -- always helping other people," she said. "He was very happy about being accepted into the academy. He was ecstatic about it."
Kenneth Healey, 25, grew up with the law enforcement gene -- his father is a Nassau County police detective, friends said. Healey, who has a younger brother and sister, grew up surfing and snowboarding and spending time on the beach, said the mother of one of his closest childhood friends.
"He was a doll -- just a doll, mild-mannered," said Trish, who did not want her last name used. "He's just a kid that everybody liked, but he was quiet -- calm, cool and collected."
Trish said a few months ago she saw a picture of Healey at his graduation from the police academy, beaming in his new uniform.
She was struck, she said, by how his new career matched the strengths of his character.