Local officials, family and friends attended a street dedication in Hicksville for NYPD Officer Terence P. Connelly on Saturday. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports.  Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

An NYPD officer who died from 9/11-related cancer two decades after working at Ground Zero was remembered Saturday as a “true American hero” during a street dedication ceremony close to his Hicksville childhood home, where his parents still live.

Terence P. Connelly died in 2021 after developing glioblastoma, a brain cancer that officials and family said was linked to his recovery efforts at the World Trade Center after the terror attacks that killed 2,753 people.

More than 2,000 first responders, office workers and lower Manhattan residents have died of illnesses linked to the toxic rubble and smoke.

Connelly was a rookie with the 112th Precinct in Queens when he went to the site and watched the towers fall. He spent a month there, searching for survivors and remains, his family said.

NYPD Officer Terence P. Connelly died in 2021 after developing glioblastoma,...

NYPD Officer Terence P. Connelly died in 2021 after developing glioblastoma, a brain cancer that officials and family said was linked to his recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Credit: NYPD

“He never questioned what it meant to his own health. He never questioned what it meant for himself and through that, for his family. It was all about doing the right thing, serving the public and assisting at one of the darkest moments in America's history,” Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino told the nearly 300 relatives, friends and police officers gathered to pay tribute to the fallen officer.

"So quite simply, Officer Connelly will always be remembered as a true American hero," Saladino said later. 

Before the event, bagpipes played and the NYPD’s color guard stood in formation as his two sons, ages 14 and 6, his wife, parents, and siblings looked on.

 Terence Connelly had dreamed of joining the police force since he was in seventh grade, his mother, Mary Connelly, told Newsday.

“He wanted to be a cop because he always said he wanted to help people,” said Mary Connolly.

Nassau Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville) said she had known Connelly since he was a young boy and had taught some of the Connolly children. Like other speakers, she recalled his selfless spirit and said it hadn't surprised her that he chose to become a police officer.

“He was always the one to be there for everybody. Even when we were in different activities, he was always helping everyone else. … That kind of person who doesn't think of himself first, he thinks about other people,” Walker told the crowd.

After the speeches, his wife, Jennifer Connelly, of Babylon, unveiled a new marker under Blueberry Lane that read, “Police Officer Terence P. Connelly Way.” Nearby, their 6-year-old son Hayden wore his father’s NYPD cap and clutched a replica of the street sign.

“It brings back memories of when we were young and dating and he was still living here,” Jennifer Connelly told Newsday, adding that he was loved by all.

“He was just very giving,” she said.

“He was always there for us too as his family even though he was dedicated to his job. And we just miss him very much,” she said.

People on Long Island share their thoughts on President Joe Biden's decision to drop out of the 2024 election and the possibility of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez; Jeff Bachner; File Footage

'I think it's the best for the country' People on Long Island share their thoughts on President Joe Biden's decision to drop out of the 2024 election and the possibility of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee.

People on Long Island share their thoughts on President Joe Biden's decision to drop out of the 2024 election and the possibility of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez; Jeff Bachner; File Footage

'I think it's the best for the country' People on Long Island share their thoughts on President Joe Biden's decision to drop out of the 2024 election and the possibility of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee.

Latest videos

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.