Chicago firefighter honored with posthumous degree from SIU Carbondale

Ronald Regan Jr’s daughter, Qianna, is pictured with (from left) SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan, SIU System President Dan Mahony, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Lindsay Laycoax, lead site coordinator for SIU’s Public Safety Management program.

SIU Foundation Media Services

CHICAGO – Chicago Fire Department Capt. Ronald Regan Jr. was honored Friday morning with a posthumous degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Regan passed away Dec. 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was just one semester away from earning his bachelor’s degree in public safety management.

During a ceremony in front of the Chicago Fire Academy, Regan was remembered by his fellow firefighters, family members, friends, and SIU representatives.

“Ron was not just a firefighter or captain, he was a friend,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said. “He did so much for everybody else. He never thought about himself.”

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, SIU System President Dan Mahony, and College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the diploma.

“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this diploma will provide his family and friends with a measure of comfort.”

A dedicated family man and respected firefighter, Regan made a positive impression on everyone he met.

“Ron embodied both the spirit of a firefighter and the spirit of a Saluki,” Chancellor Lane said. “His commitment to bravery, along with the vision, tenacity, curiosity, and compassion of Saluki, form a remarkable combination worthy of celebration and remembrance.”

Regan’s wife, Cheryl, was unable to attend the ceremony, so his daughter, Qianna, accepted his diploma and spoke on the family’s behalf.

“My dad inspired me, and it’s amazing to see how he inspired others,” she said.

Regan started his career in the Chicago Park District, where he built successful swim teams. He later moved on to the Chicago Fire Department Academy, from which he graduated in 1996. He began his career at Truck 40. Over the years, he rose through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, and captain.

“Ron is definitely gone too soon,” Nance-Holt said. “He was so very special. He wanted this degree so much. I know he’s watching us today with a smile.”

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