Jimmy Lanza was, to many, the heart and soul of Woodside, Queens. The Vietnam vet grew up in the Woodside Houses and later served as an FDNY firefighter for 28 years.
For three decades, he lived at Boulevard Gardens right in front of the corner of 31st Avenue and 54th Street, which was named in his memory.
“It means that everybody loved and appreciated all he has done over the years,” Lanza’s sister, Marian Pennachio said.
“He would have been completely overwhelmed by this outpouring,” Stefanie Pennachio said. “He was very humble. It would have been difficult for him to accept something like this,” she added.
On September 11, 2001 Lanza rushed to the World Trade Center to help in the rescue efforts. Lanza helped pull 16 survivors out of what has become known as the “miracle stairwell.”
Last April, Lanza died of 9/11 related cancer.
“He was a friend, he was a Woodside hero,” Costa Constantinides, Queens City Council Member said. “Everyone looked up to him, wanted to emulate him,” the Councilmember added.
Speaker after speaker talked of all of Jimmy’s good works including the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Legion Post 1836. But ironically his own sister said if he were still alive, he wouldn’t have been available for the street renaming.
“He would have been in Texas or Florida helping people after the hurricanes,” Pennachio said.
According to the FDNY, 159 FDNY members have died of 9/11 related cancers.