STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- George Toth, 85, of Eltingville, a heroic police officer with the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit who made headlines in 1983 for using a scaffold to rescue a man who attempted to scale Tower 1 of the former World Trade Center, died Monday in Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze.
Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Toth became a Merchant Mariner at the age of 17, making convoy trips to Europe, Australia and the Far East during World War II. He then joined the U.S. Army, fighting in the Korean War with artillery units. He was discharged in 1951, and received a Bronze Star.
Mr. Toth began his storied career as an officer in 1952, when he joined the Port Authority police. He became a cop with the NYPD in 1956, working out of the 23rd Precinct and the 78th Precinct for several years. Around 1960, Mr. Toth joined the Emergency Services Unit, and spent 30 years working in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.
During his time in Manhattan, Mr. Toth worked out of ESU's Truck One - taking part in several notable emergencies in the 1970s. He responded to the bombing of historic Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan in 1975. And in 1983, he and his partner maneuvered a scaffold nearly 80 floors up the North Tower of the former World Trade Center and rescued a climber using a safety rope.
"He had an exciting life," said his son, Stephen. "He always enjoyed helping people, and could handle any situation."
When he wasn't working, Mr. Toth enjoyed fixing machines and other equipment. Always mechanically inclined, his son said that his father took pride in his knowledge of tools, especially the more obscure ones often found in his ESU truck.
"He was a man of all trades. He was good at what he did, and he enjoyed everything he did," said his son.
He retired from the NYPD in 1990, and enjoyed spending much of his time with his family.
Mr. Toth's wife, Patricia, died in 1997.
In addition to his son, Stephen, surviving are another son, George, and three grandchildren.
The funeral will be Saturday from Casey-McCallum-Rice South Shore Funeral Home, Great Kills, with a mass at 11 a.m. in St. Clare's R.C. Church, Great Kills. Burial will follow in Resurrection Cemetery, Pleasant Plains.