Officials from Southern Illinois University Carbondale awarded a posthumous degree to a Chicago firefighter on Friday during a special ceremony at the Chicago Fire Academy.
SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane, SIU System Chairman Dan Mahony and SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the members with the diploma from the family of Chicago Fire Department Captain Ronald Regan Jr., who was one semester away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree. in Public Safety Management from the SIU. He died on December 19, 2021 of COVID-19. Regan was 58 years old.
Colleagues said Regan was a respected firefighter, dedicated to both family and service.
“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.
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.
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“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Lane said. “We hope this degree will bring some comfort to his family and friends. Ron embodied both the spirit of a firefighter and the spirit of a Saluki. His commitment to bravery, along with Saluki’s vision, tenacity, curiosity and compassion, is a remarkable combination worthy of celebration and remembrance.
Nance-Holt said Regan was motivated to graduate from SIU.
“Ron definitely left too soon,” she said. “He was so special. He wanted that degree so badly. I know he’s looking at us today with a smile.
SIU Foundation Media Services contributed to this story.