Remembering the Life and Service of Recovery Worker Paul W. Reedy Sr.

Remembering the Life and Service of Recovery Worker Paul W. Reedy Sr.

Front of DDC Disaster Recovery Team jacket belonging to Ground Zero rescue and recovery worker Paul W. Reedy Sr. Gift of Paul Reedy Jr.

Paul W. Reedy Sr. (1945–2015) was born and raised in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He began his 17-year career with the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) as a construction agent and worked his way up to a director’s position before retiring in 2006. Described as humble and a good communicator, Reedy brought a calming presence and years of expertise to his leadership role at Ground Zero.

Arriving at Ground Zero on Sept. 13, Reedy spent the next five months assisting firefighters and contractors, digging through rubble and assessing the site’s organizational structure. He worked the night shift, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., but he often stayed on site until the early morning hours. Afterward, he would drive 80 miles (roughly two hours) back to his home in Dutchess County, N.Y.

Identification card belonging to Paul W. Reedy Sr. Gift of Paul Reedy Jr.

In mid-October 2001, the DDC issued personalized Disaster Recovery Team jackets to their members at Ground Zero. Reedy wore this inscribed, bright orange, L.L.Bean winter jacket to the site every day. A unifying symbol, the jacket was a prized possession to Reedy.

Front of DDC Disaster Recovery Team jacket belonging to Ground Zero rescue and recovery worker Paul W. Reedy Sr. Gift of Paul Reedy Jr.

Given his construction experience, Reedy was aware of the likelihood of building-material contaminants at Ground Zero early into his service. As a result, he was cautious to keep dust-covered work clothing and gear away from his house and children. Often undressing before even entering the house, he would hand off his clothing — his DDC jacket included — to his wife, who carefully washed everything in preparation for the next day. In the years that followed, Reedy donned the jacket for special occasions, DDC gatherings and funeral services. It was a cherished token of his service at Ground Zero and a community emblem that highlights the DDC’s critical role in site operations. 

Back of DDC Disaster Recovery Team jacket belonging to Ground Zero rescue and recovery worker Paul W. Reedy Sr. Gift of Paul Reedy Jr.

On Oct. 27, 2015, Reedy died from complications linked to the inhalation of airborne pollutants found in the dust, soot and smoke at Ground Zero. His son and widow, Paul Reedy Jr. and Virginia Reedy, gifted the DDC jacket along with his credentials to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in commemoration of his life and service at Ground Zero.

By Christina Chavez, Curatorial and Collections Research Assistant, 9/11 Memorial Museum