ANTIOCH – After the funeral of Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, it’s clear the widely-known community leader will live on in the people who love him.
The sea of blue and black that overtook Antioch Community High School represented the thousands who came to pay tribute to Gliniewicz during a visitation, funeral and procession.
The desire to say a final goodbye to Gliniewicz, who was shot and killed Sept.1, was widespread throughout the state and even the country.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was among those who attended, Lake County Detective Chris Covelli confirmed, as well as out-of-state family, friends, strangers and countless law enforcement personnel, some from as far as New York.
“We are with you, Joe,” said Officer Rachel Smithberg, of the Joliet Police Department during the funeral. “And we know you will always be with us.”
Gliniewicz, 52, died Sept. 1 after he went to investigate three suspicious men shortly before 8 a.m. in the 100 block of Honing Road in Fox Lake. The search for the suspects and the investigation into his death continued through Monday’s services.
During the funeral, Fox Lake Lt. Mark Schindler announced his comrade had been awarded a Medal of Honor.
What followed were anecdotes from some of those closest to him, laying out what kind of man he was: one who woke every day at “zero dark thirty;” one who loved coffee; and one who was unfailingly dedicated to his family, his police work and his community.
Gliniewicz’s first cousin Denise Clingerman left the auditorium in the afternoon to
allow a large mass of the general public time at the visitation.
The auditorium, filled beyond the 425-seat capacity, was quiet, she said.
A pin could be heard falling to the ground, Clingerman’s friend added.
“It’s heartwarming to know how many people support and love him,” Clingerman said. “He truly was one of the good guys.”
Jon Gibson, who went to Antioch Community High School with Gliniewicz, described the auditorium as dimly lit. A pianist sat in a common area at the back of the school, playing peaceful melodies while hordes of visitors stood in lines that wrapped around multiple hallways.
Jenny Shepard and Debbie Anderson, both of Antioch, are longtime friends of the Gliniewicz family. After getting through the line and saying their goodbyes, they said the tragedy has started sinking in after almost a week and described the past few nights spent with Gliniewicz’s younger brother, Michael.
Gliniewicz also left behind his wife of 26 years, Mel, and four sons: Joseph, Donald “D.J.”, Jeffrey and David.
“It’s a small community where a lot of people know each other,” Anderson said, adding the turnout to the visitation was overwhelming. “We’re not used to walking through lines to say goodbye.”
The massive turnout by the public was matched by that of law enforcement. Men and women in uniform from across the country flooded the parking lot and high school. At least 1,500 police vehicles were packed into nearby lots, each holding two or more officers, Covelli said.
It’s clear that Gliniewicz was an influential member of the community, he added, noting the large presence of not only adults, but also young people from a number of police explorer posts.
The visitation began at 9 a.m., two hours after the casket was brought into the school, passing several dozen police officers rendering a solemn salute.
Gliniewicz was brought out of the school hours later as the Pipes and Dreams of the Emerald Society Chicago Police played their rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
The 18-mile procession that followed detoured in a loop through Fox Lake to Gliniewicz’s final resting place, Hillside East Cemetery in Antioch. The ceremony at the site included a last call over the radio, a flyover and a trumpeter playing taps, Covelli said.
Down the street from the school, a U.S. garrison flag was hoisted up by two trucks, one belonging to the Antioch Fire Department, where Gliniewicz’s brother serves as a lieutenant.
As an officer, “he was reasonable, fair and just,” Michael Gliniewicz said during the funeral.
“When we were growing up we all knew Joe was a hero, but now the nation knows he is a hero,” he added, next speaking directly to his brother. “We are Gliniewicz strong. I love you, brother. You will always be part of my life.”