Community gathers to pay respects

By Dave Gong

Residents and city officials gathered Sunday to remember city employees who passed away while serving DeKalb.

“We are gathered here today to honor some great people that unfortunately died,” said DeKalb Fire Chief Bruce Harrison at the start of the service.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen gave a brief history of Timothy P. Moudy Memorial Park, 491 E. Lincoln Highway, were the memorial was held.

“As part of the city’s improvement of the downtown, we purchased this property so that it could become a park,” Povlsen said. “Upon the death of [police] officer Tim Moudy on July 25, 1994, the city looked for ways to memorialize the contributions of him as well as many other city employees.”

Povlsen said the park was dedicated Moudy Park in 1995. That same year, DeKalb began holding an annual memorial service for city employees and retirees who passed away.

“We proudly continue this tradition by honoring our deceased employees and retirees here today,” Povlsen said.

Following Povlsen’s speech, Ray Krueger, DeKalb Fire Department chaplain, gave an invocation.

“We pray that as we remember, that we would be motivated to serve as they have served us,” Krueger said.

Following the invocation, DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen read the names of 16 people who died while employed by the city, as well as three retirees who died since the 2010 memorial service.

Among the names read was former city attorney Norma Guess, who died March 12.

After the names were read, the Huntley Middle School Choir performed the national anthem, after which several memorial wreaths were placed in front of a memorial plaque. Feithen and Harrison presented wreaths from the DeKalb Police and Fire Departments, while Povlsen presented a wreath from the city. Scott Rongey, of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), also presented a wreath.

Following the presentation of memorial wreaths and the reading of the police officer’s prayer, the DeKalb Fire Department performed the Firefighter Bell Ceremony, with Harrison giving a history of the ceremony’s tradition.

“This is a tradition of the firefighter,” Harrison said. “In the past, as firefighters began their tour of duty, it was the bell that signaled the beginning of that day’s shift.”

Harrison said when a firefighter died in the line of duty, the bell would toll in order to signify the firefighter’s sacrifice.

“To symbolize the devotion of these brave souls and for their duty, a special signal of three rings, three times each, represents the end of the comrade’s duties, and that they will be returning to quarters,” Harrison said.

Following the bell ceremony, friends and family members of the deceased were allowed to place flowers next to the memorial wreaths presented by the city.

The ceremony concluded with a gun salute and the playing of “Taps” and “Amazing Grace.”