Family, friends and firefighters recently filled the Vigilant firehouse for a Line of Duty Wall Dedication Ceremony for Honorary Chief Doris Groene.
One of the first women to volunteer with the Vigilant Fire Company ambulance when she joined the fire department on June 2, 1986, Groene worked at Vigilant for more than 30 years, where she eventually became Vigilant president. She passed away in June 2017 after a long battle with 9/11-related cancer.
On September 11, 2001, Groene responded with mutual aid units sent from Great Neck to the World Trade Center (WTC) and Chelsea Piers under the command of First Corporal Kenneth Bleck, who also passed away from WTC-related cancer in September 2016. At Ground Zero, she was exposed to the toxins that are believed to have led to her cancer.
“Doris was a constant at Vigilant,” said Joshua Forst, who was Vigilant chief at the time of her passing. “She preceded Kenny as president and I was lucky enough to have served directly under her as vice president. She was both a mother figure and a friend.”
In 1998, Groene married the love of her life, Frank “Mickey” Groene, also a Vigilant life member, who she met at the firehouse. Her previous marriage ended in divorce.
Groene’s younger son, Raymond Plakstis, Jr., former Alert Fire Company chief and Village of Great Neck deputy mayor, also passed away due to a 9/11-related illness on Nov. 30, 2018. She is survived by her older son, Tom McDonough, former chief of the Port Washington Fire Department.
“I served as Doris’s Recording Secretary during part of her presidency, and she was a constant source of strength and support,” said Vigilant President Phil Katz. “She was someone I could ask for help knowing she would drop everything for the company. She was a true Vigilant in every sense.”