Fallen officers remembered at Will Co. courthouse ceremony
By Brian Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org May 10, 2013 11:08PM
Retired Will County Sheriff's Deputy Karin Kendzora (seated) and her granddaughter, Deputy Kim Topolewski (standing) listen as the names of Will County officers who have died in the line of duty are read. Karin's son (and Kim's uncle), Deputy Ray Topolewski, died in 1985 while on patrol. | Photo: Brian Stanley/Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:16PM
JOLIET — The drizzle held off Thursday afternoon until immediately after the ceremony ended on the Will County Courthouse lawn.
The honor guards of the Joliet and Will County Sheriff’s police lowered their rifles and flags. Some Joliet officers carried away their bagpipes and drums while a delegation of state troopers stood at ease. Chiefs and commanding officers from dozens of other local departments shook hands and began walking to the annually-mandated major crimes task force board meeting.
As the 32nd Will County Law Enforcement Memorial Day ceremony broke up, Karin Kendzora got up from the bench she’d been sitting on alone in the center of the action and reached out to touch the granite monument that bears the names of the 33 officers killed in the line of duty since 1865.
Kendzora’s hand rested briefly on the name of her son, Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Raymond Topolewski, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while he was on patrol in 1985.
Ray Topolewski followed his mother into the family business as Kendzora herself is a retired deputy. Their legacy has continued beyond his death with the deputy standing near the bench, Karin’s granddaughter Kim Topolewski.
“My mother was pregnant when my uncle died and my middle name ‘Rae’ is after him,” Topolewski said. “I’ve heard about him my whole life.”
Kendzora said her granddaughter continues to make her proud, but she also finds reassurance with the many men and women she didn’t know who attended.
“Our family will never forget him, obviously. But to see all these newer officers — some who weren’t even alive before he died — remember him too is wonderful,” Kendzora said.
Thursday’s ceremonies began with a Mass at St. Mary Magdalene Church where the Rev. Chris Groh likened the duties of a police officer to the early Christians.
“They bring a message of peace, harmony and brotherhood to people who have instability within their lives,” Groh said. “Today we recognize the challenges they face can seem insurmountable, but they know what they’re doing is right.”