Two vials of blood donated by FDNY Safety Battalion 1 Chief Lawrence T. Stack prior to his death amid the World Trade Center terrorist attacks have provided his St. James family “a miracle” — enough of their patriarch to bury after waiting years for even a fragment of remains to be identified from at Ground Zero.
“All of these years sitting and waiting patiently to bury Larry and always hitting a brick wall,” widow Theresa Stack said, prompted her to reach out to the New York Blood Bank a year ago when it occurred to her that maybe her husband’s blood was still there. The couple had donated blood for an Islip bone marrow drive given for a child suffering from cancer several years before the terrorist attacks.
“It’s almost like a miracle . . . many, many years later that we would have this blood,” said Theresa Stack, who spoke to reporters Thursday when she announced her family was ready to bury her husband at the Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton alongside other FDNY members and receive a military burial. Stack had served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
Stack, of Lake Ronkonkoma, crawled through debris from the collapsed south tower, according to survivors. He then made his way to the north tower, where he tried to save a man’s life just when the second tower fell.
Stack’s son, FDNY Lt. Michael Stack, 46, who works for Ladder Company 176 in Brooklyn, said he was doubtful the blood would still be at the blood bank: “We didn’t think it was going to be there and for whatever reason it was never destroyed.”
“We finally have a place for him,” said Theresa Stack, who remembered her husband as “always a gentleman to everyone he met. He rose to the rank of chief because he always cared about others.”
Another son, Firefighter Brian Stack, 44, joined the department after his father died. He is currently preparing for the department’s special operational unit.
For the past 15 years, the family has honored Stack at the Gardens of Remembrance in Hauppauge. Stack is one of 179 Suffolk County residents whose names are engraved in glass panels at Suffolk County’s 9/11 memorial.
On Stack’s birthday, his wife, children and six grandchildren visit the memorial. “We bring balloons and sing happy birthday and release the balloons,” Theresa Stack said.
Stack’s funeral Mass will be June 17 at 10 a.m. at Saints Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, 1 Carow Place, St. James.
June 17 also would have been the Stacks’ 49th wedding anniversary. “It will be a very special day for all of us,” Theresa Stack said. “I will remember the many lives that were lost on that day.”
She said the public burial of her husband should come as a reminder “so people don’t forget” what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.