Respected firefighter and symbol of unity, Bob Beckwith, died on Sunday, February 4, 2024. He was 91.
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and the Uniformed Firefighters Association confirmed his passing. Beckwith’s life was characterized by bravery, service, and a pivotal moment that captured the nation’s spirit.
Beckwith, a retired firefighter, became a symbol of hope after he was pictured alongside President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
At the age of 69, and years after his 1994 retirement, Beckwith wore his firefighter gear once again to aid in the search and rescue operations. His actions embodied the resilience of New York City and the entire nation.
Beckwith, a New York City native, started his FDNY career in 1965. He spent most of his service with Ladder 164 in Queens and retired after three decades of dedicated service to his beloved city.
The image of Beckwith standing with President Bush on September 14, 2001, as Bush gave a historic speech at Ground Zero, has become a lasting symbol of the FDNY’s bravery and the nation’s determination to recover and rebuild.
Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and New York Representative Anthony D’Esposito expressed their admiration and gratitude for Beckwith’s legacy of hope and courage.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association of the FDNY acknowledged Beckwith’s significant contributions during the events of 9/11. “Bob remains an iconic figure among our 9/11 heroes, representing the spirit of the nation, New York City, and its people,” the association stated on X.
In his years after retirement, Beckwith continued to make a difference by advocating for healthcare for 9/11 first responders and helping others process their experiences from that day. He did public speaking and fundraising, donating all the money received to the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, six children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. in an interview a year ago, Beckwith stated that he had malignant skin cancer, but it is not known if that was the cause of his death.
To honor Beckwith’s life, services will be conducted on Long Island. Friends, family, and a nation grateful for his service will bid this remarkable American hero farewell.
Beckwith’s journey from the firehouses of New York to a place in national memory highlights a lifetime of service to his city and a commitment to the principles of bravery and community that persist in his memory.