Even in death, after a life of sacrifice to the city he loved, William Gormley is still hanging out on the corner.
More than a year after Gormley died from a 9/11-related illness, a Brooklyn street corner was named after the retired firefighter — right where he grew up.
Family, friends and firefighters said the tribute was only fitting for a man who always maintained close ties to his community.
“Billy was a Flatbush guy,” said Gormley’s sister, Kathy Khatari, who pushed city leaders for a dedication at the corner of Flatlands and Flatbush avenues after the family was offered another location. “I wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Gormley, 53, died June 14, 2017, more than 10 years after he retired from Ladder 174 in East Flatbush.
Gormley joined the FDNY after serving in the Marine Corps, and was among the first responders at the Ground Zero site after the World Trade Center was leveled by terrorists on hijacked planes.
“This tragedy is still taking lives, including Billy,” said city Councilman Jumaane Williams, who facilitated the name change.
“But his work helped to save so many,” Williams said.
He added that members of Congress should cross party lines and appropriate the money needed to help people suffering from 9/11 illnesses. “It’s not something that should get done. It’s something that has to get done,” Williams said.
Gormley died from lung cancer.
Gormley’s childhood friend, Andrew Cameron, said the tribute was surreal.
“Looking back 40 years ago standing on this corner, never ever would Billy, or any of us for that matter, have believed that one day this street would bear his name, Cameron said.
“Maybe a pair of sneakers thrown over a wire or some graffiti on a pole. This was our playground, where everything happened. This is where we met everyone every night. No phone calls, you just knew where to be. You knew to be on this corner.”