Photos: Big turnout to help Southold firefighter

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Frank Locrotondo with his wife, mother, children and grandchildren at a Southold Fire Department fundraiser. Frank is suffering from a form of dementia.

More than 700 local residents attended a fundraiser Saturday night for Frank Loctrotondo, a longtime Southold Fire Department volunteer and emergency medical technician suffering from a form of dementia.

“I think it’s awesome that everybody came out and supported this effort,” said Peggy Killian, the first assistant chief of the department, who organized the event along with former chief Bill Witzke.

Mr. Locrontondo has been a member of the Southold Fire Department since moving to the area in 1991 and was the department’s Firefighter of the Year in 1997 and EMT of the Year in 2003. He attained the rank of Captain. He also was an EMT instructor for Suffolk County and volunteers say he was a mentor to others in the department. Mr. Witzke credits him with saving the life of a newborn infant who wasn’t breathing five years ago.

In October 2011, Mr. Locrotondo was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia at the age of 54, and the condition has worsened since then. His family says he doesn’t speak often, and is difficult to understand when he does.

Suddenly, the man who was known for helping others, was in need of help himself. Ms. Killian said they begun planning Saturday’s fundraiser for Mr. Locrotondo in April.

The fundraiser featured burgers, hot dogs, chicken, music from the band Just Groovin’, and more than a dozen tables of Chinese Auction items that were donated by local businesses, said Ms. Killian, who also co-owned Eastern Tire in Southold with Mr. Locrotondo for 13 years before his illness forced him to step down.

Mr. Locrotondo attended the fundraiser Saturday, as did family members.

His son, Dan, said he expected the big turnout.

“He was a very big part of the department and the community,” he said.

“It’s amazing,” said Tisha Larsen, Mr. Locrotondo’s daughter, of the turnout. “I can’t believe all the donations to the Chinese auction.”

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