A team guy, with a contagious smile and unyielding dedication to his work helping others. That was how Lawrence G. Sesso, a former Sayville Fire Department chief who worked as a Port Authority police officer, was described Tuesday, three days after he died at age 40.
Total shock was how Sayville Fire Commissioner Don Corkery described the news of the death, which occurred as Sesso was headed home after marching with departmental members in a Town of Islip parade in Central Islip.
"At 40 years old," Corkery said, "you do not expect a fireman to pass away like that. Especially, a guy like Larry. He was a very happy guy, a very outgoing guy . . . a team guy, all-around. I'm beside myself."
A 23-year member of the fire department and chief from 2009 to 2011, Sesso is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and three children, Gregory, Deanna and Lauren.
A wake is Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Raynor & D'Andrea Funeral Home in West Sayville. A service will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the funeral home on West Montauk Highway. Burial follows at St. Ann's Cemetery in Sayville.
Officials said drivers can expect West Montauk Highway to be briefly closed in the area to accommodate traffic, particularly during the special fireman's wake salute Wednesday night.
Sesso joined the NYPD in 1998, serving in the 75th Precinct. He moved to the Port Authority police in March 2002 and became a PAPD PBA delegate in December 2012. He worked at Kennedy Airport.
"Larry's passing leaves a huge void in the JFK Command, the PAPD and his hometown," Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority PBA, said in a statement. "Not only was Larry an exceptional police officer, but an advocate for all Port Authority police officers."
Nunziato said that, while assigned to Kennedy Airport command, Sesso worked patrol and was "a high-value escort and special weapons officer." He also served, at varying times, as a marine patrol officer, a police communications specialist, a plainclothes anti-crime officer and as a Federal Aviation Administration certified aircraft rescue firefighter.
Corkery said Sesso was en route to the Saturday afternoon parade when he and a fellow volunteer responded to a call at a nearby assisted living facility. The fire was confined to one room, Corkery said, noting Sesso had remained in the fire vehicle to work communications -- one of his specialties.
After the fire, Sesso joined fellow Sayville members marching in the parade, then attended a barbecue. En route home, he suffered distress near, as it turned out, the Central Islip-Hauppauge Ambulance garage. EMTs immediately tried to resuscitate Sesso, transporting him to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, Corkery said. Sesso never recovered.
The cause of death is pending the outcome of an autopsy. Corkery said officials think it may be heart-related.
Corkery said that when volunteers got back from the hospital, more than 100 acquaintances and residents had gathered outside the Sayville firehouse, all in a show of support.
"He was in good health," Corkery said. "He goes to work every day, does his job. Answers alarms at Sayville. Community service, all the way.
"It's just a shame."
In lieu of flowers, Sesso's family requests that donations, marked "In Memory of Lawrence G. Sesso," be sent to the Sayville Fire Department.