A quiet intersection in Bethpage will forever be emblazoned with a sign memorializing New York City firefighter William Tolley.
At a solemn ceremony Saturday unveiling the sign featuring “F.D.N.Y. Firefighter William N. Tolley Way” at the intersection of Crestline Avenue and Acme Avenue, local dignitaries and members of the FDNY and local fire departments remembered Tolley as an American hero.
His widow, Marie Tolley, and the couple’s daughter Isabella were guests of honor — standing at the intersection just feet from their home.
“Seeing my husband’s name displayed here will bring us so much joy knowing that his community will never forget him,” Tolley said through tears. She thanked her husband for continuing to watch over their family as he always did.
William Tolley, 42, was a firefighter at Ladder 135 in Queens, a 14-year veteran of the FDNY and the drummer in a speed metal band. He died in April after he fell five stories from the roof of a Ridgewood, Queens, apartment building while fighting a minor fire sparked by unattended burning incense, FDNY officials said at the time. He had also served as a volunteer for the Bethpage and Hicksville fire departments.
The ceremony was hosted by the Town of Oyster Bay and featured remarks from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and others.
Saladino said Tolley “epitomized what it meant to be a true American hero.”
FDNY Capt. Rich Blasi of Ladder Company 135 in Ridgewood said Tolley invested his time, life and love for all those around him and that he is not really lost but more accurately has been absorbed by all who knew him.
“When people think they’ve lost someone they try to shield themselves from the memory because it hurts so much,” Blasi said. “But in the firehouse talking around the table, we talk about him like he never left. He’s still a part of us — everything he did or said we remember it like it was yesterday.”