Police Officer James Leahy’s selfless bravery on September 11, 2001 remains indelible — but the city has brushed aside the man who inspired his heroic deeds.
Leahy, a 38-year-old father of three, was two miles from the World Trade Center when he witnessed the first plane explode into the North Tower. He and his partner left the safety of their Greenwich Village beat to run downtown.
There, the Staten Islander native — without protective gear — walked into the flames to help with the rescue effort, pausing only to leave a reassuring voicemail message for his wife and young sons.
You never heard from him again. Leahy, who was last seen climbing the smoky stairs of the North Tower with an armload of oxygen tanks for the firefighters at the top, died when the building collapsed.
“Hero isn’t big enough to describe Jimmy,” police officer Victor Laguer, his partner, said at the time.
Three generations of Leahys have dedicated their lives to New York City public service. But while the NYPD has honored James in countless memorial services, the Parks Department has neglected the memory of his father Arthur, a security guard who was murdered on the job in 1975.
“After my father was killed, all I and my brother talked about was becoming a cop,” James’ little brother Arthur III, now 54 and an NYPD detective, told The Post. “You wanted to be the good guy, the guy to stop it before it happens to someone else.”
“My grandfather Arthur’s death was a stepping stone for my father’s whole character,” said James’ son John, 27, a New York City firefighter. “He had so much responsibility at such a young age. He took care of everyone.”
James, the eldest of the five Leahy children, was only 13 when Arthur was bludgeoned to death at the state-owned La Tourette Golf Course in Staten Island.
A trio of thieves, intent on stealing the Links’ weekend winnings, shot Arthur and hit him with golf clubs as he fought off their robbery attempt.
But after years of broken promises, the flower garden that the parks authority wanted to plant in honor of the Leahy patriarch remains unplanted.
Its intended site, a grassy roundabout dotted with goose droppings in front of LaTourette’s clubhouse, contains only a crumbling flagpole and a sign naming the plaza “Arthur C. Leahy Circle,” unveiled in 2015 by then-Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.
“They told us there was more to come,” said Arthur’s widow Jeannette Leahy, 81.
“He gave his life and that has never happened before in the park administration,” said Denise Leahy Henick, 57. “We feel that this sacrifice should be properly recognized so that my father will not be forgotten.”
The family’s attempts to get Parks to complete the memorial have become deadlocked between the department and American Golf, the California-based company that manages La Tourette and four other city golf courses.
“At one point we were told there was no sprinkler system in the circuit,” said Arthur III. “They said if they planted the garden, we’d have to water it ourselves somehow.”
Photos of the roundabout show flowering annuals and ornamental shrubs that thrived there in 2004 and 2012.
Despite the signage, La Tourette employees said they had no idea who Leahy was or why his name appears outside of their workplace.
“I just tell people to google it,” manager Sam DePaola said. “I wish I knew more.”
American Golf did not respond to a request for comment.
Leahy’s murder is one of only two on-duty fatalities in Parks Department history, spokeswoman Meghan Lalor confirmed.
“We are excited to discuss the feasibility of a garden on this site with the Leahy family,” said Lalor.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/10/parks-dept-forgets-slain-guard-whose-son-became-9-11-hero/ Parks Dept. forgets the slain guard whose son became the hero of 9/11