Funeral procession through 19th Ward set for fallen firefighter Herbie Johnson
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com November 7, 2012 12:16PM
Herb Johnson, 54, left, a resident of Chicago's Morgan Park community and a 33-year veteran of the department, is promoted to captain by Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago on August 10, 2012. | Fire Media Affairs photo
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:28PM
The funeral procession for fallen Chicago Fire Department Capt. Herbie Johnson will run through the 19th Ward that he called home.
A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Rita of Cascia High School, 7740 S. Western Ave. in Chicago. There will be no classes because 10,000 to 15,000 people are expected to attend the funeral.
The Rev. Frank Kurucz, pastor of St. Cajetan Roman Catholic Church, where Johnson was a parishioner, will be the celebrant. He expects the Mass will last about two hours.
The procession afterward will head south on Western Avenue to 111th Street, and west on 111th to Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 W. 111th St.
Johnson was a 1976 graduate of St. Rita and will be honored by current students during the procession, school spokesman Mike Stawski said. Students will stand at attention in the 10600 and 10700 blocks of South Western Avenue, near King-Lockhart Park, which is dedicated to two other Chicago firefighters who died in a fire, Stawski said.
“The student council went to every class, letting the students know about this,” Stawski said.
Because of the large turnout expected at St. Rita, parking will be available in the rear lot and on grassy areas in front of and behind the school, Stawski said.
The funeral Mass will be broadcast on closed-circuit TV into classrooms where some of the overflow crowd will be directed, he said.
As is often the case when a firefighter dies in the line of duty, dozens of fire departments are expected to send representatives to the funeral, Kurucz said. Some may be coming in from New York, Stawski said.
The Rev. Thomas McCarthy, chairman of the board and chaplain at St. Rita, will deliver the homily, Kurucz said. The Rev. Thomas Mulchrone, chaplain for the Chicago Fire Department, will deliver the eulogy, Kurucz said.
Johnson, 54, lived in the Morgan Park community. He died Friday from injuries suffered while battling a house fire in the 2300 block of West 50th Place. He is the first Chicago firefighter to die in the line of duty since 2010.
Visitation began at 3 p.m. Wednesday at St. Rita.
The high school played a big role in Johnson’s life. His sons, Tom (Class of 2004) and Mickey (Class of 2011), graduated from St. Rita. So did Johnson’s three brothers and nine nephews.
To view a slide show tribute to Johnson, visit www.stritahs.com.