Best described as ‘the life blood of the ambulance corp.,’ William Heaney, Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Inc, chairman, died Sunday, November 9. He was 51.
Heaney was instrumental to the organization, which serves the Throggs Neck and Pelham Bay area, from the very beginning.
Born and raised in Silver Beach, Heaney remained close to his community until the end. At age 17, he joined TNVAC as a EMT and continued to work his way up the board. A St. Raymond’s High School for Boys graduate, Heaney taught CPR classes to adults and to Preston High School students, the Star of the Sea-Sea Cadet Corps, and the Boy Scouts.
He served as TNVAC’s chairman for two and a half years and trained many instructors during his career with the volunteer ambulance service. Heaney could always been seen during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and other Throggs Neck Merchants Association organized events.
True to his nature, Heaney was always willing to help whenever and whoever required assistance. Fun-loving, positive, and an extraordinary sense of religious faith he kept close to his heart, were some of his trademark qualities.
His official last time on duty was the evening of Saturday, November 8. While working a midnight tour, he informed the team he was going to take a rest inside his ambulance. When a member went to wake him, it was discovered he had passed away in his sleep.
“After the Veterans Day Parade, they announced his passing,” revealed Ruth Leich, TNVAC vice chairman. “People were shocked because he was young and it was a great loss to this community.”
John Cerini, TNMA treasurer, shared many insights and memories detailing Heaney’s generous character. When one of Cerini’s family members was injured at Maritime College, Heaney called to assure his relative was fine.
“That was very nice of him and he helped give me a real peace of mind knowing he was there and everything was under control,” explained Cerini. “He was a very down-to-earth, easy going guy and he was always willing to do whatever he could to help people. He was definitely giving of himself and of his time.”
Had it not been for Heaney’s quick action one year, there would have been a Christmas without a Santa Claus. Cerini revealed TNMA was unable to secure a fire truck for Old Saint Nick to ride inside, as per tradition. Instead, Heaney had him hitch a ride inside a TNVAC ambulance, making it just in time for the yuletide festivities.
“He was a wonderful person and loved the community,” informed Stephen Kaufman, TNMA president. “He was a great guy who was involved in many organizations and was the life blood of the ambulance corp.”
James McQuade, a founding member of the corps spoke kindly of him saying Heaney was a neighborhood kid who contributed greatly to the community through his work with the local volunteer ambulance service.
“He believed in service and community and that’s how he lived his life,” expressed Carolyn Engeldorum, Schuyler Hill Funeral Home secretary. “He was always there for people and was my dear friend for more than 35 years.”
A wake service was held Wednesday, November 12, and the following day at Schuyler Hill Funeral. A funeral Mass was conducted on the morning of Friday, November 14, at St. Frances de Chantal Church. In lieu of flowers, it is asked donations be made to TNVAC, in honor of Heaney’s memory. All donations to the organization are tax deductible.
“There’s not a person in this neighborhood who didn’t know Billy,” said Leich. “He was always around and we used to call him ‘The Mayor’ because he was always running around the town. He will be greatly missed, not just by us, but by multiple organizations and people he met throughout different stages of their lives.”