(WSIL) – Chicago Fire Department Captain Ronald Regan Jr. was honored Friday morning with a posthumous degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Regan died on December 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was only one semester away from getting his bachelor’s degree in public safety management.
At a ceremony in front of the Chicago Fire Academy, Regan was remembered by fellow firefighters, family members, friends and SIU officials.
“Ron wasn’t just a firefighter or a captain, he was a friend,” said fire marshal Annette Nance-Holt. “He did so much for everyone. He never thought of himself.
“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this degree will bring some comfort to his family and friends.”
Regan’s wife, Cheryl, was unable to attend the ceremony, so her daughter, Qianna, accepted her degree and spoke on behalf of the family.
“My dad inspired me, and it’s amazing how he inspired others,” she said.
Regan began his career in the Chicago Park District, where he built successful swim teams. He then joined the Chicago Fire Department Academy, from which he graduated in 1996. He began his career at Truck 40. Over the years, he rose through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant and captain.
“Ron definitely left too soon,” Nance-Holt said. “He was so special. He wanted that degree so badly. I know he’s looking at us today with a smile.