Hundreds Pay Respect to Hinsdale Deputy Chief Mark Johnson
Firefighters from area communities joined together for the firefighter's walk through.
Fire engines, squad cars and ambulances lined Hinsdale Ave and Grant Street from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday night. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects to the man they knew as "the gentle giant." Deputy Fire Chief Mark Johnson died while on duty Monday afternoon.
Johnson enjoyed a distinguished career as a firefighter with the Hinsdale Fire Department. He was hired in 1986, became the first firefighter/paramedic in 1988, was promoted to Lieutenant in 2001, Captain in 2003 and Deputy Chief in 2008. Johnson was the department's training officer for several years and trained a generation of Hinsdale firefighters.
"Mark was very good. He led by example. He would do anything he was asking someone else to do," said Hinsdale Fire Chief Michael Kelly. "People respected that because they knew he could do the job."
Prior to joining the Hinsdale Fire Department, Johnson worked at Soukoup's Hardware (now Fuller's hardware) from the age of 16 through college.
"For anyone else, it would've been just a job to pay for school, but Mark was very loyal," said Cheryl Johnson, Johnson's wife of 32 years. "Mark said he never met a harder working guy than Mr. Soukup, and he really admired that."
Johnson also had worked previously at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital as the safety inspector. Miguel Luna, now a security officer at the hospital, was his supervisor at the time. "Every time the outside inspectors came, they would find nothing wrong. We had nothing to worry about because [Mark] was on the job."
Johnson worked for the La Grange Park Fire Department as a paid on-call firefighter before joining the Hinsdale Fire Department. Steve Tullis, a Hinsdale firefighter, knew Johnson at both the La Grange Park and Hinsdale Fire Departments. "With him around, he made you want to be a better firefighter. He always did the right thing," said Tullis.
Fire departments from Chicago, Oak Brook, Clarendon Hills and Westmont were among the departments to participate in the fire department walk through at Gibbons Elliston Funeral Home in Hinsdale Thursday night. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Christ Lutheran Church in Clarendon Hills.