USA Today - January 11, 2018by www.lohud.com
FDNY Lt. (Ret.) Joseph Stach Jr., cited for bravery so many times as a firefighter, known as a friend in his community and a hero to his family and to us all, has died. The culprit is, again, the toxic exposure that he suffered as he stayed, hour upon hour, day upon day, week after week, at the World Trade Center site, to aid with rescue and recovery efforts after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Stach, a longtime Valley Cottage resident who was born in Nyack, died on Jan. 7. He is survived by his wife, Jo-Ann Ryan-Stach, and five children: Darren, Corrin, Kayla, Ryan, and Tyler; his parents, Joseph Sr. and Lee Stach; and his sister, Lisa Ryder and her family.
According to FDNY records, Stach became a firefighter on Oct. 21, 1990. He served in Engine 48 and Ladder 56 and Ladder 6. He earned a bachelor's degree in business management from St. Thomas Aquinas Collage in Sparkill. He served as life member of Empire Hook & Ladder Co. #1 in Upper Nyack.
Stach was among the thousands who battle — and continue to struggle through — diseases caused by their exposure to Ground Zero's dangerous chemicals, which have been directly linked to various diseases and cancers. Going on 16 years, we are losing heroes like Stach. Only eight days into a new year, 9/11 deaths include NYPD Lt. Paul Murphy of Long Island and New York State Trooper Michael J. Anson of Albany County, who was assigned to New York City after Sept. 11, 2001, to aid in the search and recovery efforts. So many more struggle daily with illnesses from their dedicated service.
Stach had earned citations for his bravery on numerous occasions. He was honored for a rescue in July 2009, as a member of Ladder 6 Dragon Fighters, which service Chinatown in Manhattan. According to the FDNY'S "Medal Day Book" that recounts such heroism, Stach made a dramatic rescue at the scene of a five-story tenement fire. Hearing that a tenant may still be trapped in an apartment near the source of the fire, Stach dismantled the door, blocked by debris, and belly-crawled to an unconscious victim, in cardiac arrest, who was literally glued to the floor from melting plastic. It was a dire situation; support had yet to arrive. Stach would not give up. He pried the man free and dragged him out to the hallway. Crews performed CPR on the severely burned man, and he was transported to the hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. A statement from the FDNY said of Stach: "He reacted swiftly and decisively in directing his company, as well as demonstrating personal courage by entering a hostile environment in a lifesaving effort."
Various illnesses dogged Stach after his exposure. He retired in 2010, after 20 years on the job, much earlier than he had wanted. The Valley Cottage and Nyack school district community rallied around the family, long active in the community. But it was hard for them to be on the other end of charity and assistance. A Go Fund Me effort stated that Jo-Ann would only accept the fundraiser if she could either groom a pet or cook a dinner for any donor.
Last April, fellow FDNY members headed to the family's Valley Cottage home to spruce up the exterior of the home, yard and garden. By then, Stach's illnesses had turned into pancreatic cancer. Rigorous chemotherapy sapped so much of his strength. When he returned home from a treatment, he welcomed the site of his spruced-up home. In standard Stach wit, he told the Daily News: "It pays to know people."
Visitation is scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 11 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at St. Ann's Church, 16 Jefferson St., Nyack. A service by Nyack Fire Department will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the church. Funeral services are at St. Ann's in Nyack at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, followed by interment at Gethsemane Cemetery, Rockland Lake State Park. Donations in Joe Stach’s memory can be made to the FDNY Family Assistance Unit, 9 MetroTech Center Room 5E-9, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Hannemann Funeral Home in Nyack is handling arrangements.