Funeral held for Chicago officer

May 28, 2010 8:37:06 PM PDT
Hundreds packed a South Side church Friday to celebrate the life of fallen Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham IV.

Wortham was remembered as a son, a brother and a friend with a giving and humble heart - and was described as a fallen hero and a warrior.

"Other than my father, I don't know if God ever created a greater man," said Wortham's sister Sandra.

Thomas Wortham is being remembered not just as a Chicago police officer, but also as an Iraq War veteran.

"If you want to see success, you need not look any further than the man Tom was. If God needed another soldier - another warrior - in heaven, then he got more than that: he got Thomas Wortham IV," said Chicago Police Officer Andy Turner.

At the funeral Friday, Wortham's parents were praised for raising a great young man who wanted to make a difference in peoples' lives.

"Tom possessed the qualities you can only get from having loving parents: a strong work ethic, courage, selflessness, responsibility and integrity," said Turner. "I can honestly say Mr. and Mrs. Wortham did a fine job."

"Smart, focused, friendly, helpful, loving, and brave," said 6th Ward Alderman Freddrenna Lyle. "As the old folks would say, he came from good stock. He was the exemplification of what a young Black man should be."

Those closest to Wortham made the service a call to action.

The tribute drew hundreds of his fellow officers - a sign of deep respect for the man who walked the walk.

" He stood up. He was working to improve his community not just as a soldier, not just as a police officer, but as a resident - to protecting his neighborhood for the children of Chatham," said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.

Wortham was killed when suspects allegedly attempted to steal his motorcycle.

Wortham's father, a retired police sergeant, witnessed the violence and fired back, killing one suspect.

"Thomas did not stand alone that night. Sgt. Wortham - you were there for your son his entire life. You were there defending him and fighting bravely for him - to the last," said Weis.

He was a Chicago police patrolman who had also served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

"You showed no fear - your men admired you," said Capt. Matthew McDonald of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "They would follow you anywhere."

"God did not give Tom a long chronological life. His three decades on this earth he had a servant's heart, and he led an exemplary life - a purposeful life - and all of us who are parents would be well advised to look at his life as a role model for our children," said Governor Pat Quinn.

The strongest memories shared about Wortham were about the dignity with which he carried himself and his service to his community outside of work.

"The people of Chicago have lost a compassionate man, a community leader who touched many lives - worked tirelessly to make his neighborhood and his beat a better place to live," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Those who knew Wortham best called upon those listening to do something to carry on his legacy.

"It's okay to be sad. It's okay to cry. And it's okay to grieve. But let's not be angry," said Wortham's mother, Carolyn Wortham. "Because angry saps your energy, and we have much to do."

Wortham was buried at Lincoln Cemetery.

This Memorial Day, he will be among those fallen soldiers honored for their service at the cemetery.

Wortham had hoped to move closer to his parents, get married, and have kids. His dreams for himself will not be fulfilled - but his dreams for the Chatham community now lay with the living.

"We can't say it's too hard - pack up the house - we all pack up, then what? Tommy never ran from a challenge, and so I don't think we should," said Sandra Wortham.

The message from all of those who spoke at the service Friday was to not let Wortham's death be in vain.

I'm glad we had him when we did," said Sandra Wortham. "I hope God has him now, and I just hope that all of you don't just leave here and forget, and that the same pain that we have now can propel us."

Wortham's parents placed a message in his casket Friday that reflected his life of service. The note read: "May the work I've done speak for me."


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