Battalion Chief Lawrence Stack is finally getting a funeral, nearly 15 years after he died.
Stack was one of the New York City firefighters who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
As the New York Times reports, his family members have waited for years, hoping some trace of Stack would be identified from what was recovered at Ground Zero – especially since remains of the deceased are a requirement for a proper Catholic funeral mass.
But Chief Stack's widow Theresa, who is 73, finally decided the waiting had gone on long enough. “This winter I said to my boys 15 years is my cutoff point ... I can’t go past 15 years,” she told the New York Daily News. “We had to have some place to go ... a place to bury him.”
A blood sample for the marrow registry
Theresa remembered that more than a year before he died her husband had added his name to the bone marrow registry, the Times says, which involves providing a blood sample for type matching.
They considered it a long shot, but last year Theresa and her two sons (both New York firefighters) went to the New York Blood Center to see if the blood sample still existed.
After some checking, the Blood Center first told the Stacks that the sample had not been destroyed – then a few months ago said it had been tracked down in cold storage at a blood repository in Minnesota, dnainfo.com reports.
The two vials of blood were shipped back to New York and Theresa Stack tells Newsday “It’s almost like a miracle . . . many, many years later that we would have this blood.”
Fire Lt. Michael Stack told the Times his mother had envisioned a simple Catholic mass, but New York's Fire Commissioner insisted on a funeral service with full departmental honors.
It will happen on Friday morning when Lawrence Stack, who served with the Navy during the Vietnam War, is buried at Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island.