Page 34 - March 2021
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GOOD LIFE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 Washington, D.C., for the Peace Officers
Memorial during National Police Week on his own time and his own dime. He was such a Blues Brothers fanatic that he channeled a little Jake and a little El- wood.
According to good friend Chicago Po- lice Chaplain Father Dan Brandt, Woitel had packed 100 years of good life into his 49 years before bravely succumbing to pancreatic cancer on Feb. 24. About a day and a half earlier, Lieutenant John Folino, another of his best friends, put out the word to have a walk-by event for Woitel.
He set a noon call to gather in a church parking lot a few blocks away. By 11 a.m., the parking lot overflowed with officers and friends signing a blue line flag and posters and making signs to give their well-wishes to one of the most beloved officers in the Department.
“He was a great police officer, a great friend and amazing father, which should probably go first,” Folino shared. “Just his smile, his laugh, how he brought us all together.”
Added Father Dan: “My sister is a can- cer survivor, and her license plate has ‘YOLO’ for ‘you only live once.’ Geoff cer- tainly lived by that credo.”
Lodge 7 advocated for this end-of- watch story honoring Woitel because he watched over everybody and everything during his 21 years on the job. This is not just a story about his life, but a story about life, a tribute to inspire members to reach for the quality of life they de- serve. And, as this story will reveal, the Lodge is working on a plan to help them do just that.
Another of his best friends inside and outside the Department who worked with him in Area Three, Detective Pat McGrath, reached out to Woitel when he was going though his own hard times. The help he received made him realize the lesson and legacy Woitel leaves.
“Life is not about getting ahead. It’s about watching over the people that you’re in the foxhole with,” McGrath conveyed. “You have to stand arm in arm and make sure you’re looking out for your brothers and sisters. Take care of each other. That would be No. 1, be- cause he definitely took care of me when I needed it.”
Larger than life
Motivation to live life always comes from family, and Geoff certainly knew that, having grown up as one of seven children. His daughter, Sophie, and son, Jack, were his oxygen, and they shared
his love of sports. Dad was omnipresent at Sophie’s volleyball tournaments and Jack’s baseball games. You could always hear him being the one cheering the loudest.
Geoff was fortunate to share his love of baseball with his kids by making annual summer pilgrimages with them to base- ball stadiums around the country. Even when he knew his health was in ques- tion, he bought a camper and planned to set out on the road with them again this coming summer.
“That shows you he was a fighter,” Fo- lino praised. “Some people just give up. Geoff did not.”
Folino met Woitel when they came on the job together in 015 and quickly real- ized how Geoff had the makings of a very good street copper. He had street smarts and common sense, according to Folino, that enabled him to talk to people and get intel from the street using his sense of humor. That ability made him a great de- tective, too, and, McGrath said, enabled him to solve cases that would give other people nightmares.
McGrath noted that Woitel spent his entire career saving lives, including a 2015 response that is one of the most sto- ried in Department annals. A man had a gun to a girl’s head and was beating her
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