The Town of Hempstead renamed a Point Lookout street to commemorate a local FDNY firefighter who died of a 9/11-related illness.
The street sign reading “Ginny Ann Avenue,” named for Virginia Ann Culkin-Spinelli, a longtime Point Lookout resident who participated in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, was unveiled Saturday morning in an emotional ceremony.
“While this is just a simple street sign, this sign will be a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ginny Ann,” said Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney (R-Wantagh). “Heroes like Ginny Ann should never be forgotten.”
King Sweeney was joined by Culkin-Spinelli’s friends and family at the corner of Lynbrook Avenue, now Ginny Ann Avenue, and Bayside Drive. Members of the community, the FDNY and local fire departments also were present.
“Mom has been honored in Colorado Springs, Albany and the town park,” said Spinelli’s daughter, Shannon Llewellyn. “This is more of an honor. It hits closer to home.”
Culkin-Spinelli joined the FDNY in 1982 and was part of the first class of female firefighters to join the department, King Sweeney said. She served at Engine 226 in Brooklyn, later transferring to Engine 329 in Rockaway.
She was a member of the FDNY for 20 years, retiring to St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband, Vincent Spinelli, in 2002.
“Innately adept, adventurous, capable, dedicated. She was a force to be reckoned with,” said her close friend, Jane Fay, 64.
Culkin-Spinelli died in 2011 after a yearlong battle with a cancer directly related to exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero, King Sweeney said. She was 57.
The FDNY kicked off the ceremony with the presentation of colors. The guard stood at attention while Culkin-Spinelli’s grandniece, Lane Heneghan, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
The crowd donned dark blue T-shirts with Ginny Ann’s name while they listened to remarks by King Sweeney, William Magale, Culkin-Spinelli’s brother, and friends Cathy Mueller and Fay.
“Ginny would come up and give you a hug and hit you,” Magale told a chuckling crowd. “She grew up tough. She would do basically what she wanted to do.”
Magale recalled how much his sister loved animals, her family and friends, and how capable she was as a firefighter.
"Instead of a verbal legend, there will be a historical and physical example for the future youth of Point Lookout," Fay said.