Funeral being held at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Family, colleagues and friends gathered Wednesday to remember fallen Chicago Fire Lieutenant Kevin Ward.
He died a few weeks after he was injured while battling a house fire near O'Hare Airport.
Wednesday morning's visitation began 9 a.m. at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. The funeral then followed at 11 a.m.
"Kevin and I were together for over 15 years," Ward's former wife, Corinne Walenda, said. "We lived down the street from this church. We would walk down here and listen to the choir practice."
His casket was escorted from Engine 98's historic firehouse on East Chicago Avenue, onto Michigan Avenue and into Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, CFD Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt and CFD Captain Anthony Massaro paid tribute to Ward.
"Lieutenant Ward made the ultimate sacrifice for our city, and there is nothing we can do or say to repay that debt," Mayor Brandon Johnson said.
Ward is the third Chicago Fire Department member to die in the line of duty this year.
"Lieutenant Kevin Ward embodied the very essence of firefighting and the Chicago Fire Department. His dedication to serving and safeguarding others was unwavering," Commissioner Nance-Holt said.
Ward's fascinating life was the focus of the event. His loved ones described him as a man with an adventurous spirit, a thirst for knowledge and a passion for discovering new things.
"Friends of Kevin will often describe him as 'different,' and he was," Massaro said. "He had an adventurous spirit, a thirst for knowledge and a passion for trying new things. How else would you describe a man with an economics degree who worked at the Board of Trade, worked on a fishing boat in Alaska, worked as a ski instructor in Colorado, worked as a hotel chef, liked SCUBA, was an artist, a welder, a mechanic, fireman and of course, the underwater hockey player."
Lieutenant Ward died at Loyola Medical Center after fighting a house fire on August 11 in the 8300-block of West Balmoral Avenue.
Ward was in the basement of the home when he was critically injured, two other firefighters were injured in the fire. Officials say they still don't know exactly what happened in the moments leading up to that first mayday call.
"I watched him take his first breath. I watched him take his last breath," Lt. Ward's father John Ward said. "I loved him. I will miss him."
Lieutenant Ward is survived by his father and sister. He was buried in a private ceremony following Wednesday's service.