John Garrido Sr., longtime Chicago cop, dead of COVID-19 after 61 days in a hospital
Working undercover in narcotics for much of his career, ‘He had more wardrobe changes than Cher,’ according to his son, police Lt. John Garrido Jr.
Officer John Garrido Sr. used to call himself “one of dese ‘dese, dem and dose’ guys.”
“He couldn’t pronounce the number three for the life of him,” said his son John Garrido Jr., a Chicago police lieutenant. “It was one, two, ‘tree.’ ’’
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A drive-thru wake is planned Sunday for the Bridgeport native, 76, who died Nov. 25 of complications from the coronavirus after 61 days hospitalized at AMITA Health Resurrection Medical Center.
The virus was “like playing whack-a-mole,” said his son. As soon as one medical problem eased, another popped up. Friends followed Mr. Garrido’s story through his son’s Facebook updates.
His family is asking people to wear colorful clothing to the wake for the longtime Chicago cop, whose closet was resplendent with tie-dyed and “Tweety Bird yellow” clothing.
“He had more wardrobe changes than Cher,” his son said.
Working undercover in narcotics for much of his 36-year career, “He was a chameleon,” his son said.
Sometimes, he’d have a bushy beard or flowing mustache. And he’d dye his hair or change it from long to short.
He met one of his four ex-wives at the hair salon where he bought wigs for his disguises.
Mr. Garrido was divorced when he died, according to his son, who said: “He was out there looking for my future ex-stepmom. He never let an opportunity go by to flirt.”
He said his father grew up near 25th and Wallace, the son of Juan Garrido, a meatpacking worker from Tequisquiapan in the Mexican state of Querétaro. His mother Augustina was from Tepatitlán de Morelos, Jalisco.
After grade school at St. Anthony of Padua at 28th and Wallace, he went on to De La Salle Institute. Mr. Garrido decided to transfer to Kelly High School after a “dust-up” with another De La Salle student — Richard M. Daley, the future mayor, according to an oral history he shared with Memoir for Me, which produces keepsake memory books.
After high school, he was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, his son said.
He went to work for the Chicago Police Department in 1968 as the city was racked by anti-war protests and unrest following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“It was unreal. Madison [Street] was on fire,” Mr. Garrido once said in an interview with TV producer Jessica Smedick.
Over the years, “He’d been shot at, thrown down stairs, stabbed,” his son said.
Between his military and police training, “He would always tell me when he walked in a room, ‘I ID anything that could be used as a weapon — from a pen on a table to a cookie jar,’ ” his son said. “He made sure there was always something he could get to.”
In addition to his son John Jr., who beside being a cop also has run for alderman and other posts, Mr. Garrido is survived by his son Joe, daughters Jennifer Maul, Melissa Morales and Brianna and Emily Garrido, sisters Gloria Rivera, Aurora Herrera, Rose Almaraz and Rosie Alvarez, brother Tony Garrido and one grandchild.
The drive-thru visitation is planned for 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Malec & Sons Funeral Home, 6000 N. Milwaukee Ave. Mr. Garrido’s closed casket will be under an outdoor awning on the north side of the building. Guests are asked to remain in their vehicles. Burial will be Monday at Maryhill Cemetery in Niles.
In 2014, Mr. Garrido was part of a canine rescue operation that stretched over three countries and thousands of miles. During a vacation in San Pedro, Belize, John Garrido Jr. and his wife Anna encountered an ailing, abandoned Doberman. Once they got home, they couldn’t stop thinking about the dog they called Pedro.
High summer temperatures were then limiting air transport of pets, so the couple — who run the Garrido Stray Rescue Organization — planned to drive Pedro back to Chicago. Mr. Garrido and his son flew to Cancun, where they met local animal rescuers. They rented a car and drove south to the Mexico-Belize border, where other rescuers reunited Pedro with John Garrido Jr.
“We took Pedro from there and made our journey back,” driving through Mexico accompanied by two of the animal rescuers, his son said. Mr. Garrido, who was fluent in Spanish, helped navigate road checkpoints. “He was the co-pilot.”
Once they arrived at the Texas border, Anna Garrido and a friend met her husband and father-in-law, and they all drove back to Chicago. Pedro is now 9 years old and in good health.
“Dad was just always there,” his son said, “no matter what.”