Everyone knew when Brian McCauley was in the room.
"He was bigger than life," said Joe Crawley, who worked with McCauley in the New York Fire Patrol. "You could hear Brian from up the block."
McCauley, a New York fire patrolman from North Merrick who spent more than two weeks working on the pile at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, died Sunday after battling a rare form of cancer. He was 42.
Family and friends remembered the man they lovingly called "Bobo" as a warm, generous person who relished a good joke. "In the most serious of situations, he would make everybody laugh," his mother, Ginny McCauley, said.
Brian McCauley was born July 1, 1967, and grew up in North Merrick. He volunteered for the North Merrick Fire Department, and became a fire patrolman with the New York Fire Patrol, now disbanded.
McCauley spent 16 days working at Ground Zero. Ginny McCauley said he didn't speak much about that work. Still, she said, "had he had the chance to go back, he would have."
McCauley also worked for the Uniformed Firefighters' Association, after he started volunteering to honor a colleague who died on 9/11.
"There's not even words to explain how much laughter and joy that he brought to this place," said Maria Zingone of the firefighters' union.
McCauley went on disability in 2006 after developing spinal chordoma. He told Newsday in 2007 "there is no question in my mind" that the cancer was linked to his work at the pile. The City of New York has maintained that illnesses such as McCauley's have not been proven to be related to Ground Zero work.
"Brian would give you anything - anything - and obviously he gave all now," Ginny McCauley said.
In addition to his mother, McCauley is survived by his father, Terry McCauley of North Merrick, sisters Amy McCauley of North Merrick and Diane McCauley of Massapequa, and brother T.J. McCauley of North Bellmore. The wake is Wednesday 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the N.F. Walker Funeral Home in Merrick. A funeral Mass will be said Thursday at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in North Merrick. Burial is at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.