Page 36 - March 2021
P. 36

messages that ranged from “We love you, brother” to “Never was there a day when you didn’t make me laugh” to “Who’s go- ing to lift their shirt for me now?”
“That’s what they loved about him,” Folino confirmed. “They wanted to give him one last chuckle, so to speak, you know, one last joke, because everything was ball-busting with him.”
Perhaps St. Michael was listening and smiling right along. How else to explain that amid a grueling Chicago winter, the sun was as bright as ever and the tem- peratures permitted everybody to enjoy this outdoor bash? They witnessed first- hand the love, the fraternity, the support that Woitel inspired every day.
In addition to the 16th District cars playing “Sweet Home Chicago,” Lodge 7 President John Catanzara worked with the Department to offer another tribute by sending horses from the mounted unit to honor Woitel. Alderman Antho- ny Napolitano, who worked with Woitel when he was on the job, also made a trib- ute speech, as did members of Geoff’s family.
The music and messages apparently reached Woitel, according to Father Dan. The rally culminated with Folino lining
Officers from the CPD Mounted Unit attend to pay tribute to Woitel.
up all officers to present arms and give Geoff a final salute. It seems that was all he needed to be at peace and let go.
Folino joined family members who were there by Geoff’s side as he passed.
“As he squeezed my hand the last min- ute, we told him, ‘You know what, we’re here for your family. We will never forget your kids. Don’t worry about that. And rest well, brother.’”
Real life
This story is only a beginning. Mem- bers can continue to honor Woitel by getting busy living.
They probably don’t need to be re- minded how much seeing more evil during one tour than most people see in a lifetime can wear on them. But perhaps losing two more brothers who took their own lives the week after Woitel passed should be a wake-up call to make sure physical and mental well-being does not prevent you from pursuing a good life.
There is a reason why the mortality rate in law enforcement is so high. The toll that stress takes contributes to car- diac issues, pulmonary issues and really any opportunistic disease, even cancer.

   34   35   36   37   38