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Hero Down: Officer Kathleen O’Connor-Funigiello Dies From 9/11-Related Illness

New Rochelle Police Officer Kathleen O'Connor-Funigiello died of 9/11-related cancer.

New Rochelle, NY – New Rochelle Police Officer Kathleen O’Connor-Funigiello died in the line of duty on Aug. 16, when she succumbed to cancer that she developed following her service at the World Trade Center Attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Officer O’Connor-Funigiello, 56, had been on the force for just over three years when the attacks occurred, The Journal News reported.

She and her partner, New Rochelle Police Officer Russ Mendola, made several trips to Ground Zero to sift through the rubble in search of bodies and survivors.

"We did this for eight hours at a time," Officer Mendola told The Journal News. "It was horrible down there."

When she got off shift, Officer O’Connor-Funigiello would often go back to Ground Zero to work even more hours as a volunteer.

"She was everything. A great person, a true friend and very good police officer," Officer Mendola said. "Towards the end of her life, I saw her losing weight, but she didn't tell anyone anything for a long time. She was such a fighter. We're already missing her."

Officer O’Connor-Funigiello, a 20-year veteran of the force, worked for the New Rochelle Board of Education for more than a decade before she began her law enforcement career, according to her obituary.

Her coworker, Officer Giselle Wilson, described her as a positive influence within the agency, who always seemed to have a smile.

"Anytime she passed you in the hallway, she was always smiling and said, ‘hi,’ and had an infectious personality," Officer Wilson told The Journal News. "It's such a cliché thing to say she was wonderful, but she really was. There's not a bad thing I can say about her."

After years on the street, Officer O’Connor-Funigiello suffered a back injury that resulted in her taking an assignment as a warrants officer in the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division.

"In the end, her dignity, good spirits and courage were intact and unbreakable," New Rochelle Police Benevolent Association Detective Christopher Greco told The Journal News.

“Kathy was an exemplary police officer, and will be sorely missed by those who knew her,” her obituary read.

Officer O’Connor-Funigiello leaves behind her husband, Anthony, and her stepchildren, Frank Funigiello, Elaine Muller, and Ann Marie Nicoletti.

She is also survived by her siblings, and many nieces and nephews.

Officer O’Connor-Funigiello was laid to rest on Aug. 20.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of New Rochelle Police Officer Kathleen O’Connor-Funigiello, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Holly Matkin - August Mon, 2018


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