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Chicago 911 dispatcher gets a final salute

Guadalupe ‘Lupe’ Lopez died Nov. 16 of complications from the coronavirus.

Erica Lopez, daughter of Guadalupe “Lupe” Lopez, hugs Fr. Dan Brandt, of the Chicago Police Department’s Chaplains’ Ministry, as her dad’s funeral procession stops in front of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications Monday. | Ashlee Rezin, Chicago Sun-Times.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Night after night, Guadalupe Lopez just wanted to make sure the city’s men and women in blue got home safely.

And even after he’d finished a grueling overnight shift as a dispatcher with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, he’d delay much-needed sleep to help a colleague — if a flat tire needed to be repaired or a car jump-started.

“Regardless of how tired, how ready for bed he was, he would drop everything,” said Maria Pugh, who worked with Lopez for seven years.

Pugh was one of dozens of colleagues who braved a biting wind and snow flurries to stand with hands over hearts as Lopez’s funeral procession paused outside the OEMC building in the West Loop Monday morning. Lopez, who’d worked for the office for 33 years, died Nov. 16 of complications from the coronavirus. His wife, Maria Lopez, remained in intensive care, battling the same virus.

Lopez’s family stepped out of a black limo to thank his co-workers. They wore black face masks with the emblem of Lopez’s favorite baseball team, the Houston Astros, as well as the date of his death, Nov. 16, and the initials “E.O.W,” shorthand for “end of watch.”

Guadalupe “Lupe” Lopez, who died Nov. 16 of complications from the coronavirus, was a beloved dispatcher with the city’s Office of Emergency Management. His memorial was held Monday, Nov. 30.
Guadalupe “Lupe” Lopez, a beloved dispatcher with the city’s Office of Emergency Management, died of complications from the coronavirus Nov. 16.
Provided

A little later, family, friends and colleagues remembered Lopez at a service at St. Richard Catholic Church on the South Side.

Lopez’s supervisor, Sterling Gildersleeve, said he had a “passion” for his job that never waned. Earlier this year, Gildersleeve asked if Lopez might want to switch from his hectic Zone 10 job, dispatching for police, to covering a part of the city with typically fewer calls.

“He said, ‘Boss, I’m not ready to be put out to pasture yet,’” Gildersleeve recalled. “He loved his critical role as a dispatcher, and he was greatly respected and revered because of his work ethic.”

About a month ago, a colleague gave Lopez a T-shirt with the phrase “The man, the myth, the legend” emblazoned across the front of it.

“He will be extremely missed by so many people,” Gildersleeve said. “You, friend, are irreplaceable. ... Rest well, brother. Your end of watch has finally come.”

Erica Lopez, his daughter, thanked the police officers, firefighters and others who have flooded her Facebook page and email inbox with messages of support.

“You guys are why I’m standing here today on this really, really hard day,” she said. “I know he will still try to make sure every night that the men and women in blue make it home safe.”