Joseph "Joey" Rossi drove an 18-wheel truck for Messier Trucking up and down New England and New York.
Last week Rossi decided to take a hard-earned vacation. He didn't stray too far from his Pawtucket roots, and on Thursday night he arrived at The Station with a friend, Dennis Smith, just in time to see one of his favorite bands Great White. The two men would die in the fire.
"He had another day of vacation. If he wasn't on vacation, he wouldn't have been there," said Rossi's father-in-law, Eugene Harris.
The devoted family man always kept in touch through his cellphone. One of his most important calls was made on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was just six blocks from the World Trade Center as it was hit. He called his loved ones from his truck to let them know he was OK.
On Thursday night, a friend reached him on his cellphone at The Station at 10:45 p.m., asking Rossi for help moving a bed. Rossi quickly agreed. "He could hardly talk because he was having too good a time," said Lisa Costa, his sister.
After the fire, the family awaited his call. "When he didn't call, that's when we knew he was in trouble. He was never without his cellphone," said Costa.
"He loved his heavy metal. He was 35 years old and still had his rock concert shirts," said Costa. "He was 5-foot-6 and 240 pounds, a big teddy bear."
Rossi also loved his five stepchildren from his former marriage to Cheryl Harris Rossi. On Valentine's Day, he brought all the children valentines. He also loved to cook, surprise relatives with flowers, and play golf in the spring with his father, Lou Rossi.
"He had so many people who loved him, and we were all hoping he realized how many people loved him," said Costa.
"He was a good person, and I know everybody says that after you die. But he truly was a good person," Harris said.
He leaves five stepchildren and one stepgrandchild.
and PETER DEMARCO