NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – New Rochelle firefighter Keith Morris was laid to rest Saturday following a funeral at Holy Name Church, as thousands gathered to pay tribute to the 30-year-old man whose short life touched a lot of people in the city.
Morris died July 23 off the coast of Stamford, Conn., when a boat he was in capsized. Four other passengers on board survived. Morris, the son Stephen and Linda Morris, owners of Spectator’s Bar Sports Pub on North Avenue, had been a firefighter in New Rochelle with Ladder Co. 12 at Fire Station 2 on Webster Avenue as well as a bartender at Spectator’s.
Firefighters from New Rochelle, White Plains, Port Chester, Yonkers, New York City and Stamford, Conn., stood outside of Holy Name in a row to honor their fallen comrade. Thousands more gathered in the church as far back as the lobby to get one last glimpse of a young man who lost his life too early.
Morris’s cousin Vin Parise said during the eulogy that Morris was always good for a quick-witted response and comical reaction, and would literally give the shirt off of his back for someone in need.
“Spectator’s will never be the same,” Parise said.
New Rochelle resident James O’Toole, a neighbor and friend of the Morris family, said he remembers when Morris was born and seeing him grow up in Spectator’s Pub. O’Toole said Morris came from a wonderful family.
“There are no words to express what a great person he was,” O’Toole said.
Byron Gray, president of Uniformed Fire Fighters Association Local 273, said Morris was very active in the fire department and in the community, adding that his death is a tragedy for both.
“He will be greatly missed,” Gray said. “The turnout shows how much he was loved. We want to give him the best sendoff we can.”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Butterflies from Jodie, The Jodie Torigian Charitable Fund, 31 President St., New Rochelle, NY 10801.
Morris will be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.