Firefighters Attend Funeral of Woman They Saved on 9/11
By Ben Fractenberg
GREENWICH VILLAGE — The members of Ladder Company 6 carried Josephine Harris down about 20 flights of stairs in Tower 1 on September 11, 2001 as the building began to crumble.
Friday they came together again to bury the woman they called their "guardian angel" — because they were rescuing her from the tower, they weren't in the the building when it collapsed.
"Josephine would not have met the people from Ladder Six, and the people from Ladder Six would not have met Josephine if it wasn’t for what happened on September 11, 2001," said Rev. John Delendick during her funeral at St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. "Their lives merged."
Men from the company carried Harris' blue coffin, adorned with an angel carved into each corner, into the church about 10 a.m.
Family members walked by a drawing in the lobby of the church depicting a fireman holding hands with a tiny angel.
"I want to be sure all of us remember 9/11," said Archbishop Cardinal Egan during the ceremony. "Certainly as a time of tragedy, but also as a time of great grace."
Harris, 69, passed away of an apparent heart attack on Jan. 12.
She then lay in the city morgue for days because family members were unable to afford funeral arrangements, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Five days after she passed away, Peter DeLuca, the owner of Greenwich Village Funeral Home, read about her and reportedly offered to pay for the entire funeral, costing more than $13,000.
"He’s like a guardian angel to me, because there is no way I could have done that myself," Harris’ sister, Thelma Johnson, 61, told the Times.
Johnson then asked the firemen to be part of the funeral.
"We said we’d be honored to do it," Deputy Chief John Jonas, who was captain of Ladder Six on 9/11, told the Times. "It would be kind of like we are carrying her home."
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attended the service, sitting beside the men from Ladder 6.
"This was a really moving story," Giuliani said after the ceremony. "9/11 was the worst day in our history, and the best day in our history."