YONKERS, N.Y. – Antonio Rodriques' life may have been too short, but sister-in-law Anna Maria Rodriques said his family and friends will always have memories of his kindness, love and upbeat personality.
“We are all better people today because of the many gifts he gave; knowing him and loving him,” she said.”
More than 1,000 family, friends, firefighters and city officials gathered Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church in Yonkers for the funeral of Rodriques, a 12-year-veteran of the Yonkers Fire Department who died Tuesday as a result of complications from a stroke suffered during department training in May. Rodriques' death was recognized by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano as a “line-of-duty” death.
Rodriques, 49, was honored with a full department procession. His fellow firefighters stood in formation, saluting his casket as it was carried into and out of the the church to the sounds of bagpipes and then “Taps.” Two fire trucks hoisted a large American flag into the air near the church.
Rodriques' friends and family stressed his love, kindness and generosity during the funeral Mass.
The Rev. Thomas McDonald, the Yonkers Fire Department chaplain, praised Rodriques' devotion to helping others. “He was willing to lay down his life and he did it gladly,” McDonald said.
Fire Capt. Dominick Fornabaio described Rodriques as “a great friend and great firefighter.” “Let us not be sad for losing Antonio, but count our blessings [for having known him],” Fornabaio said.
Monsignor Hugh Corrigan, pastor of the church, said the crowd came to mourn, comfort one another and remember, as it should be.
“It takes time for this healing to take place,” he said.