The corner of Merrifield and Bigelow avenues in East Watertown was the site of a tragedy a year ago, but on Saturday it was a place where family, friends and fellow firefighters came to celebrate the memory of Joseph Toscano.
A memorial was unveiled at that corner to honor Toscano, who died in the line of duty while fighting a fire at a home on Merrifield Avenue on March 17, 2017.
Current and retired members of the Watertown Fire Department came out for the ceremony in large numbers and were joined by honor guards from Watertown Fire, Watertown Police and members of other fire departments. Two ladder trucks formed an arch over Bigelow Avenue and a podium was set up for the ceremony.
Joe’s widow, Maureen, said that all this would have been strange for Toscano.
“Joe was laid back and a pretty humble guy and wold be uncomfortable with the recognition he has been receiving. However, we are certain Joe would be deeply touched to have his name on this corner here in Watertown where Joe and I first met 27 years ago,” Maureen said while fighting back the tears.
Provisional Fire Chief Bob Quinn said that he is glad to see the memorial go up so the Fire Department and the whole community can remember a great public servant and the sacrifice he made for the community.
“Coming by this area over the past year has been difficult for me personally and for many others on the Department,” Quinn said. “Seeing this memorial here now as I come by will make me feel good because I will see the memorial and feel Joe is here looking at me and giving me the strength and courage I need to be the best I can be. That will make me smile.”
The memorial is a simple red sign, with a white inscription saying “Firefighter Joseph A. Toscano Square, Died in the Line of Duty March 17, 2017.”
Town Council President Mark Sideris said the memorial honors a firefighter who gave his life for the community, and was dedicated to his family, his fellow firefighters and to charitable causes.
“He worked very hard. He did so many great things and he died in the line of duty,” Sideris said. “This is an honor that doesn’t go far enough to thank the family for the sacrifices that they are now making – that we do not have Mr. Joseph Toscano around anymore.”
Marueen said the Fire Department, the people of Watertown have been a great comfort for her and her five children – Alyssa, Patrick, Mary Cate, William and Michael. She has also looked to her faith in her time loss.
“We’re doing OK. We have gotten all this amazing support. it is just overwhelming,” Maureen said. “People are reaching out everyday. I get a text, a call. My faith in God has really helped us get through it.”
Following the dedication, a reception was held at the Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church. Despite being St. Patrick’s Day the catering featured Italian favorites. Toscano was the cook for the Fire Department, but did not like corned beef so he had planned to prepare Italian dishes on the day he lost his life.
The memorial and the cost of the reception were covered by Watertown Savings Bank and the flowers were provided by Stop & Shop and Cass the Florist, Quinn said.