Crowd mourns CFD Lt. Jan Tchoryk. ‘His life was all about service.’

Tchoryk died battling a blaze in a Gold Coast high-rise April 5. He was one of two Chicago Fire Department members who died on the job last week.

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Natalia Kavkun, widow of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk, touches her forehead to his at his funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church Thursday.

Natalia Kavkun, widow of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk, touches her forehead to his at his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

When Chicago Fire Department Lt. Jan Tchoryk died on the job last week, Bill McFarlane went straight to social media to see the lieutenant’s always positive posts.

“He liked to post on Facebook and finished most of his posts with ‘be positive,’” McFarlane, the fire department’s chaplain, said at Tchoryk’s funeral Thursday.

“When looking at his Facebook, it was easy seeing his life was all about service,” he said.

Tchoryk, 55, died of a heart attack April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a Gold Coast high-rise building — one day after fellow firefighter Jermaine Pelt died in a South Side fire.

Tchoryk was a Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm. He was then hired by the fire department and rose the ranks over a 26-year career. His son, Dylan, is a Chicago police officer.

Thursday morning, a procession carrying Tchoryk’s body in a flag-draped casket atop a fire engine arrived at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church, 5000 N. Cumberland Ave.

Bagpipers and drummers followed closely behind Tchoryk’s casket as it was lowered from the fire engine and carried into the church. Scores of firefighters stood nearby at attention.

Lt. Jan Tchoryk

Lt. Jan Tchoryk

CHI311

Tchoryk was an outdoorsman who loved to fish and smoke cigars, McFarlane said. He also had an affinity for sipping Johnny Walker whiskey and took pride in his Ukrainian heritage.

Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said his colleagues called him “John.”

“John joined us first responders on countless calls across the state to help citizens and visitors of this great city,” Nance-Holt said from the pulpit. “He continued that cause until the end, running into a high-rise to be of service that morning.”

She then asked the mourners gathered to give a round of applause.

Tchoryk joined the fire department in 1997 and was assigned to Engine 91. He was later promoted to lieutenant/EMT at Tower Ladder 10, at Division and Larrabee.

That’s where he met colleague Richard Florzcak, lieutenant of Engine 4.

“When I got to the firehouse about a year ago, I couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Florzcak said.

The body of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk arrives in a procession for his funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week.

The body of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk arrives in a procession for his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

They talked about family life, and both helped their colleagues study for the engineer test, he said.

“We loved your laughter more than anything,” Florzcak said.

Firefighter James Davis agreed.

“The first day I met Jan, he greeted me with a handshake, a wide smile and a joke that only one of us laughed at,” Davis said to laughter in the church.

“You can imagine how that played out. He would tell a joke, explain the joke, go through different characters in the joke, and even give voices of the characters,” Davis said.

“If you thought it was funny, you’d be there another five minutes to hear another funny joke,” he said.

Edward Kelly, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, presented its highest award, the Martin E. Pierce Medal of Valor, to Tchoryk’s son, Dylan.

Also attending were Tchoryk’s widow, Natalia Kavkun; his mother, Olga; two daughters, Olivia and Grace; and his stepdaughter, Olena Kavkun.

Officials at the church included Chicago first lady Amy Eshleman, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and 38th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato and 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke.

Interment was at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Cemetery, 8851 W. Higgins Ave.

The day before Tchoryk died, firefighter Pelt died putting out a house fire in West Pullman. Pelt’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.

“This is one of the worst weeks of our lives. We’ve never seen anything like this,” Nance-Holt said Thursday.

Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for Lt. Jan Tchoryk carry his casket into the funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week.

Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers carry Lt. Jan Tchoryk’s casket into his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

First responders salute as the casket of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk casket arrives Thursday at his funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side Thursday.

First responders salute as the casket of Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk casket arrives Thursday at his funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Pallbearers for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk carry his casket into his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Pallbearers for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk carry his casket into his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The final bell for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The final bell for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago Fire Department firefighter James Davis recalls his time with Lt. Jan Tchoryk at his funeral at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side Thursday.

Chicago Fire Department firefighter James Davis recalls his time with Lt. Jan Tchoryk at his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Mourners attend the funeral service for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side Thursday.

Mourners attend the funeral Thursday for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Pallbearers for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk carry his casket to a fire engine after the funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Pallbearers for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk carry his casket to a fire engine after the funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Flanked by family members, Olga Tchoryk (white hair) and Natalia Kavkun (holding rose), Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk’s mother and wife, respectively, watch as pallbearers lift his casket onto a fire engine after his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Flanked by family members, Olga Tchoryk (left) and Natalia Kavkun, Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk’s mother and wife, respectively, watch as pallbearers lift his casket onto a fire engine after his funeral Thursday at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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