Frank Obremski, who patrolled the trains and rail yards of the Long Island Rail Road as he rose to deputy chief of LIRR police and protected neighbors' homes and businesses as a North Babylon firefighter and Suffolk County deputy fire coordinator, died March 23. He was 64.
His death, at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, was confirmed by Suffolk County Fire Rescue Commissioner Joseph Williams, who said it came after a stroke suffered March 10.
On that day, county dispatchers had paged Obremski to an accident on the tracks, Williams said. Years of experience -- 29 with the LIRR police, a predecessor to the MTA Police, and 44 with the North Babylon Fire Department -- came into play as he made sure the electrified third rail was off and the scene was safe, then helped coordinate emergency responders from three different agencies.
A major stroke hit Obremski hours later when he was at home, and he never regained consciousness, Williams said.
"There's a special type of person that goes into this type of thing," Williams said. "It's in their blood. Frank had it in his blood. It's good to know these people are out there."
Obremski was the third member of his family to work for the LIRR, said his brother, John Obremski, of Haymarket, Va. Their grandfather, a locomotive engineer, died after an accident on the Cannonball Express in 1932 and their father worked as a conductor, he said.
John Obremski said his brother loved working as a railroad cop.
"He'd tell stories about people going into layup yards trying to steal stuff out of boxcars, and infamous theft-of-service cases when riders didn't want to pay. He used to get a kick out of that. They'd say, 'You can't arrest me.' He'd say, 'Well, that's not true. Watch.' "
Frank Obremski also loved the camaraderie of firefighting, his brother said. He served most of his time in North Babylon's Station No. 1, some of it as chief of department.
Obremski was born in Brooklyn and moved to North Babylon with his family as a boy. He attended St. Anthony's High School in Smithtown, then Farmingdale State College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, earning a master's degree in police science.
He is survived by his brother and his wife, the former Nancy Pennecke, a retired Deer Park teacher. They married in 1971 and had been looking forward to traveling in retirement, John Obremski said.
A funeral Mass was celebrated last week at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Babylon, followed by burial at Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury. Hundreds of firefighters as well as MTA police and Suffolk County first responders attended the service.