Honorary Chief Paul Yura Sr.
The Syosset Fire Department remembers Honorary Chief of the Syosset Fire Department and longtime member of Hook & Ladder Company 2 Paul Yura Sr., who passed away at the age of 88. "Pucky," as many fellow firefighters called him because of his love for playing hockey at Syosset's Pelican Pond, volunteered for the fire department for more than 70 years. He joined Hook and Ladder back in 1938, at the age of 18.
Born in Newark, NJ on Feb. 22, 1920, his family relocated to Syosset when Paul was a young boy so that his father, a shoemaker, could make and sell riding boots to families in the area who owned horses. Paul made friends easily in the neighborhood, some of whom became lifelong buddies as well as 'brothers' in the Syosset FD and teammates on the drill team, including Henry "Muzzy" Marzola, John "Smitty" Smith, Joseph Hoda, Joe Hendrickson Sr., and Peter Morley. Paul's granddaughter Linda Cina of Seaford recalls, "I felt like my grandfather was the mayor of Syosset. It was a great feeling as a child; everyone knew him. He was extremely generous, kind and loyal. There is not a person in this world he wouldn't help."
On July 4, 1942, Paul married his late wife Helen, and family and friends celebrated their wedding at a restaurant in Hicksville. Family members recall U.S. soldiers of WWII coming home to Long Island that day, some of whom stopped in front of this very restaurant. Paul and his friends, including the late Joe Hoda, immediately brought food and drinks outside to give to the troops, thanking them for their service.
In his career, Paul owned a service station in town from 1958 to 1967 called Paul's Texaco, which was located across the street from Syosset Drugs. He then worked for the Town of Oyster Bay as a foreman for Central Vehicle Maintenance, retiring in 1986. In the early 1970s, he also spent time working as a superintendent of property for the Mill Bank Estate on Muttontown Road in Syosset, and in the early 1980s, he did janitorial work at Our Lady of Mercy Academy and became a member of the Fire Police. After his retirement, Paul drove a school bus for K & S Transportation which serviced some schools in the area.
Linda's sister Kelly remembers her grandfather contacting every family member whenever he was alerted to a fire alarm. "He was relentless. Every time the radio went off, he would call every family member to make sure every one of us was okay," said Kelly. Linda added, "He was also comforting at the same time. Every time he held my hands, they were the safest hands. You never wanted to let go of them. It could be the worst moment ever, and he would assure me that everything would be fine."
Paul's son, Paul Jr. followed in his father's footsteps by joining the Syosset FD. Paul Sr. and his wife had two other children, Jennifer Connolly and the late Robert Yura. His grandchildren include Kelly Del Vecchio and Linda Cina, and his great-grandchildren include Deborah, Vincent, Stephen, Joseph, Michelle and Dominic. Paul's siblings are the late Olga Sonoski who had been a member of the Syosset FD Ladies Auxiliary, the late Anna Sperko and the late Samuel Yura.
In his spare time, Paul loved to bet on horses and play cards. He rarely missed a card game in the firehouse, and frequently made trips to Atlantic City. Even in his last days, Linda remembers her grandfather asking her, "Can you make a bet for me?"
Paul always kept busy between family commitments, friends, work and firefighting - always putting others before himself. Linda considers "Grampie," as she called him - unique. "I've never met someone who could compare to him. He could find the good in anyone and had a way with people," she said. "You could see his soul through his beautiful eyes. I never saw a frown on his face; he was always smiling."
Linda said she and her relatives have many fond memories of the fire department, "They (firefighters) were always supportive, generous and kind. The fire department was my grandfather's second family."