Philip Hayes of East Northport, N.Y., used to make his grandchildren laugh with sayings like, "See you 'round like a doughnut," when he left a room, or "knock, knock" jokes that came without warning, said his daughter, Virginia McDermott. "He always told bad jokes," she said, "but he made people laugh."
Hayes, a fire safety inspector, was called to duty after the first plane flew into the World Trade Center, said his son, Philip Hayes Jr., of Downey, Calif. "We always took for granted that he was coming home," his son said. "He went and fought fires and came home."
Philip Hayes, 67, has been missing since Sept. 11.
The second of 16 children, Hayes was born in Brooklyn. He was married in 1952 and worked for a customs brokerage from 1952 until 1959, when he became a firefighter with Engine Co. 217 in Brooklyn.
The company, Hayes' son said, was known for its camaraderie. "None of the guys in 217 ever wanted to be relocated because of the closeness they felt with the guys in the firehouse," he said.
Hayes retired from the department after 20 years, his son said, and went back to work for a customs brokerage until 1995. When a position for an on-site fire safety inspector at the World Trade Center opened up in 1995, Hayes couldn't pass it up. "He still had badge No. 6366 in his heart," his son said.
The family has gone through many stages of grief since Sept. 11, his son said. "First there was the horror; then we had hope. Then we had the realization that he was in the building. Then we had the acceptance. It's a long, painful process."
Virginia McDermott said her father loved to read books and watch horse racing. He was more than a father, she said. "He was a friend. I loved him, but I liked him, too."