The loss of any member of the Port Authority Police Department is heartbreaking. To lose a PAPD officer on the anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, attacks, is even more emotionally wrenching.
In the early hours of this Sunday, September 11th, Port Authority Police Officer Anthony Varvaro was on his way to the World Trade Center to support public safety activities during the 9/11 commemoration events when he was killed in a motor-vehicle accident on the New Jersey Turnpike when his vehicle collided with another vehicle that was going in the wrong direction.
Officer Varvaro was only 37 years old, a number that has added significance on September 11th. Thirty-seven members of the PAPD were killed on September 11, 2001.
There are no words that adequately describe the loss all of us have at the Port Authority on the untimely death of Officer Varvaro. He leaves behind his wife Kerry; three young sons Anthony Jr., Jonathan, and Christian; and his young daughter, Savannah. When I heard the news early Sunday morning, I made a pledge to Officer Varvaro’s family that whatever resources the Port Authority had to help them through this tragedy, they would be available.
I also said that I would personally fundraise to ensure that Officer Varvaro’s young family were taken care of – his death resonates deeply with me, as it has with so many other people. A GoFundMe account has been created to help ensure that his children’s future is secure. In less than a day, more than $160,000 has been raised. I have donated to this fund, and, while I do not normally ask anyone to make donations, I encourage anyone who is able to make a contribution, to do so.
Officer Varvaro was a very special man.
This young officer did not start his career at the Port Authority. The Staten Island native was, in fact, a Major League pitcher, playing for the Atlanta Braves, the Seattle Mariners, and the Boston Red Sox.
In 2016, he retired from baseball and chose another “major league” team: The Port Authority Police Department. He graduated from the PAPD Academy in December of 2016. For around five years, he was assigned to patrol the World Trade Center campus – which was his dream post – and most recently, served as an instructor in the PAPD Academy.
We teach by example and Officer Varvaro taught many – not just members of the academy, but all who saw someone trade a career of fame, for a career of public service.
All the individuals who choose to dedicate their lives to the PAPD are extraordinary. The world saw that on September 11, 2001. We, at the Port Authority, see that every day.
These individuals run into danger to keep us safe. That dedication of literally offering their lives for strangers is something that cannot easily be understood by anyone who has not donned a service uniform or has cherished a loved one who has.
Our hearts break when we lose any member of the Port Authority. But to lose one so young, brave, and committed to all that the PAPD stands for on September 11th, as he traveled to the World Trade Center site to serve the people of this region as they marked this painful anniversary, leaves all of us emotionally gutted.
Service arrangements have been made for Officer Varvaro and friends and colleagues can pay their respects at the Matthew Funeral Home, located at 2508 Victory Boulevard on Staten Island, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, located at 10 Austin Place, Staten Island.
The Port Authority deeply mourns the loss of a hero, a role model, and a devoted husband and father. We are honored that Officer Anthony Varvaro was a part of the Port Authority family.
May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in the outpouring of love and support for their cherished loved one.
Kevin J. O’Toole is the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.