‘Sad day for Oak Forest’ as mourners pay last respects to officer

Written By By Ginger Brashinger For Sun-Times Media Posted: 04/23/2014, 06:20am
Array Orland Park Police manage traffic along 159th as hundreds of police officers from surrounding suburbs pay their respects to fallen Oak Forest Police Officer James Morrissy at Sheehy & Son Funeral Home, Friday, March 21, 2014 in Orland Park | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

They came from at least as far away as Elgin to pay their final respects to their fallen comrade.

Among the thousands of people who crammed into an Orland Park funeral home Friday night were about 300 first responders. They showed up for a ceremonial final walk-through in honor of Oak Forest Officer James Morrissy, who died Monday after an on-duty crash with another vehicle.

“He was a great officer. He gave us 34 years of service to the city of Oak Forest. He was loved by all,” said Deputy Police Chief Tim Kristin outside the Sheehy & Sons Funeral Home. “He was a great father, a great husband, a great brother. It’s a sad day for Oak Forest.”

The 62-year-old Morrissy was headed to a call Monday afternoon to help a fellow officer on a nonemergency situation when his squad car was involved in a powerful crash as he turned left from 160th Street onto Cicero Avenue. Asouthbound vehicle smashed into the driver’s side of his squad car, police said.

Morrissy died hours later at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn from multiple injuries he suffered in the collision.

Morrissy’s squad car emergency lights apparently were not on at the time of the crash, police said. The other driver — who was treated for minor injuries — won’t be charged, police said.

Morrissy was a husband and a father of three sons. He served in the military and met his wife, Janice, while in college.

The Oak Forest resident served as a police officer for more than 30 years.

On Friday afternoon, mourners packed the funeral home’s parking lot ­— with overflow cars parked on a nearby side street. On 151st Street, police and other emergency vehicles filled the median.

Police from Chicago, Elgin, Evergreen Park, Orland Park and Riverdale were among those who attended. But there were many more.

Kristin said thousands of people showed up to Morrissy’s visitation throughout the day.

Before the ceremonial walk-through, police were mulling about, shaking hands and talking. There was an air of camaraderie and, even, light laughter.

The mood turned solemn and silent, however, as the first responders lined up to pass through the funeral home.

Oak Forest Chief Greg Anderson and Kristin greeted the first responders as they exited the funeral home.

Afterward, there was embracing amid a sense of brotherhood.

A funeral service is scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. That will be followed by a funeral procession to Holy Sepulcher Cemetery starting around noon.

Jim and Donna Hortsman, of Oak Forest, said their daughter attends Oak Forest High School with Morrissy’s youngest son, Jake.

“It’s very sad,” Jim Horstman said.

Jean Moran, a former Oak Forest resident who worked for the city for 20 years and knew the Morrissys, said she was impressed by the family.

“He was a great guy. He was devoted to his job,” Moran, now of Orland Park, said. “He isn’t the type of guy who would want us to go around crying. He would want us to help his family go forward in any way that we could.”

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