Firefighter remembered as outgoing, dedicated
By John K. Ryan firstname.lastname@example.org January 15, 2011 12:46PM
Updated: April 2, 2011 5:40PM
It did not take long after walking into the Beverly home of Chicago fire Lt. Patrick Hannon to know what he loved most — his wife, his two daughters and the fire department.
The house has photos and memorabilia of all of them throughout, Hannon’s brother-in-law Tom Kochniarczyk said Saturday afternoon.
The 51-year-old Hannon was on duty when he died in his sleep Saturday morning of apparent natural causes after being found unresponsive in his quarters at his fire station in Chicago’s Bridgeport community, Fire media affairs director Larry Langford said.
Hannon was given advanced life support care and was taken to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center where he died, according to Langford.
He died of apparent natural causes, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Hannon grew up in Chicago’s Beverly community, attending St. Barnabas School and later Leo Catholic High School, where he graduated in 1979. He was the second of seven children born to Bernard and Lynn Hannon.
Firefighting was part of being in the Hannon family. Patrick’s uncle Scott McShane still is with the Chicago Fire Department, while another uncle, Craig McShane, died in the line of duty in 1981. Among other Hannon relatives was his great-grandfather, legendary athlete Jim Thorpe.
Kochniarczyk said Hannon worked fighting forest fires in Yosemite National Park in California after graduating high school.
He returned to his roots and joined the Chicago Fire Department on his birthday, Dec. 1, 1988. Soon after, he met Michelle Kochniarczyk, a Chicago firefighter-paramedic, who he married 16 years ago. They had two daughters, Katie, 15, and Bridget, 13.
“He loved being with his kids, taking them to basketball and volleyball games,” Kochniarczyk said.
“He wasn’t their official coach, but he coached from the sidelines,” she said. “He was definitely an outgoing guy who was easy to talk with.”
Hannon, who played football at Leo, was a bit of an athlete himself, his brother-in-law said.
He once scaled El Capitan, a 3,000-foot rock formation in Yosemite National Park, and also was an avid golfer.
“He got out on the course whenever he could and held his own,” Kochniarczyk said.
The firefighter’s healthy condition made his death even more of a surprise to his family.
“We’re shocked. He had no health issues that we were aware of,” Kochniarczyk said.
Hannon’s passion for firefighting was shown through his hobby of collecting memorabilia of the profession.
“Badges, helmets, patches — anything he could get his hands on that was fire department-related he’d collect,” Kochniarczyk said.
“He had a real love for the department. It was a big part of who he was.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media