Medford dedicates craft center to 9/11 hero Frank De Martini

By Jeannie O’Sullivan

MEDFORD — The legacy of a 9/11 hero will live on at the YMCA’s Camp Ockanickon.

Frank De Martini attended the Stokes Roadsummer retreat before he went on to establish a career in architecture, settle with his family in Brooklyn, and eventually earn the title of construction manager of the World Trade Center.

When the terrorist attacks unfolded, De Martini, 49, was in his office on the 88th floor of the North Tower. He insisted on staying in the building to help usher more than 75 others — including his wife, Nicole — to safety. His bravery cost him his life.

“Frank was a person who was extremely passionate about certain things — cars, wrestling, cooking,” said his brother, Paul De Martini of Haddon Heights, Camden County, where the family lived.

Multiple generations of the family attended the YMCA Camps of Medford since the 1920s, and several relatives will return to Camp Ockanickon on Sunday for the unveiling of the Frank A. De Martini Craft Center, a building its namesake helped design.

The public is invited to the 11:30am ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will be attended by Nicole De Martini and the couple’s children, Domenic and Sabrina.

The De Martini Foundation donated $100,000 to help fund the center, which will be used for art programs, board meetings, group retreats, conferences and rainy-day activities.

“The Frank A. De Martini Craft Center honors Frank’s passion and courage, and we are immensely proud to have his name and legacy forever remembered through the dedication of this building,” said Keith VanDerzee, CEO of Camp Ockanickon.

The camp has a special place in the family’s heart, according to Paul De Martini. Frank De Martini worked there as a counselor and visited the camp weekly in the weeks before the terrorist attacks to help design an expansion that would include the arts center, Paul De Martini said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the camp. It’s very much a family effort,” he said.

Another building that pays homage to the hero is Haddon Heights High School’s Frank De Martini Wrestling and Fitness Center, which was funded by money raised by his former wrestling teammates, Paul De Martini said.

Frank De Martini’s experience also is featured in the Learning Channel documentary “9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor” and in the nonfiction book 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers, by New York Times journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.

The camp is at 1303 Stokes Road. For more information about the dedication, call 609-654-8225.

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