Firefighter Dylan Cunningham honored with funeral procession

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Motorcade route brings hundreds of mourners through Lansing and South Holland

By Josh Bootsma, with information provided by the South Holland Fire Department and Lansing Fire Department

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (October 7, 2020) – South Holland Firefighter Dylan Cunningham was honored with a funeral procession Wednesday afternoon that travelled from Smits Funeral Home in Dyer, IN, through Lynwood, Lansing, South Holland, and Thornton, to St. John Church in Glenwood.

Cunningham died unexpectedly on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, following an underwater dive incident at Haigh Quarry Lake in Kankakee, Illinois.

Cunningham had been a member of the South Holland Fire Department since 2011. He started as a part-time Firefighter, and began serving full time in 2018. He also served in the Illinois Army National Guard since 2012.

He lived in Thornton, Illinois, with his fiancée, and they were expecting a child. He was 29 years old. His mother, Rosemary Cunningham, is a Trustee for the Village of Thornton.

Cunningham attended Thornwood High School in South Holland, where he excelled as a multi-sport athlete. He received an Associate Degree of Fire Science at Prairie State College, then later trained in Poland to become a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist for the Illinois Army National Guard. In October 2018 he received a Gold Seal from the South Cook County EMS Medical Director for his work in saving a patient on an EMS call.

Cunningham’s public funeral was held at Smits Funeral Home in Dyer, IN, where Cunningham’s family spoke in his honor, as did South Holland Fire Chief Brian Kolosh, South Holland Mayor Don De Graff, and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, among others.

Dylan Cunningham funeral
Lt. Governor Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton (left) and State Fire Marshal Matt Perez presented the Cunningham family with a proclamation from the State. (Screenshot from Smits Funeral Home livestream)

After the service, a procession of family, friends, firefighters, and police officers from surrounding communities made its way north up Burnham Ave. in Lansing and west on 170th St. into South Holland, passing by Cunningham’s “second home”—the South Holland Fire Department—at 16230 Wausau Ave. before arriving at St. John Church in Glenwood, IL, where a private service for family was held.

Lansing resident Norm Coyle awaited the procession, ready to raise a flag in respect. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Lansing resident Norm Coyle awaited the procession, ready to raise a flag in respect. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Arnold family—Matt (standing), Mason (left), and Jasmine—waited on their porch for the procession to pass their house on Burnham Avenue. Mom Jen was at work and unable to join in showing her respects. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Arnold family—Matt (standing), Mason (left), and Jasmine—waited on their porch for the procession to pass their house on Burnham Avenue. Mom Jen was at work and unable to join in showing her respects. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The procession came north up Burnham Ave. in Lansing, passing by Village Hall. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The procession came north up Burnham Ave. in Lansing, passing by Village Hall. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Mayor Eidam (center, in red) and other Village officials stood on the side of Burnham Ave. to honor Dylan Cunningham as his procession passed by. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Mayor Eidam (center, in red) and other Village officials stood on the side of Burnham Ave. to honor Dylan Cunningham as his procession passed by. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Some showed their support with flags and salutes. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Some showed their support with flags and salutes. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The procession included Legion Riders, who consider firefighters and police officers fellow veterans of a sort. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The procession included Legion Riders, who consider firefighters and police officers fellow veterans of a sort. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Members of Lansing's Legion Riders lined up along Burnham Ave. and held flags in support. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Members of Lansing’s Legion Riders lined up along Burnham Ave. and held flags in support. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Longtime South Holland resident Rick Olson waited with his dog Pretzel to show his respects at 170th St. and Kimbark Ave. in South Holland. Olson is a recreational diver, which made him want to support the Cunningham family and South Holland Fire Department even more. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Longtime South Holland resident Rick Olson waited with his dog Pretzel to show his respects at 170th St. and Kimbark Ave. in South Holland. Olson is a recreational diver, which made him want to support the Cunningham family and South Holland Fire Department even more. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The funeral procession continued west on 170th Street into South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The funeral procession continued west on 170th Street into South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Dylan Cunningham’s casket was borne atop South Holland Fire Engine 143. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
South Holland Police directed traffic at South Park and Route 6 in South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
South Holland Police directed traffic at South Park and Route 6 in South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
A group of Dolton firefighters stood in respect as the procession turned from Highway 6 onto Wausau Ave. in South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
A group of Dolton firefighters stood in respect as the procession turned from Highway 6 onto Wausau Ave. in South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Munster and Calumet City Fire Towers were raised over Wausau Ave. in front of the South Holland Fire Department in salute. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Munster and Calumet City Fire Towers were raised over Wausau Ave. in front of the South Holland Fire Department in salute. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Dolton Fire Tower flew a large American Flag over Highway 6. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Dolton Fire Tower flew a large American Flag over Highway 6. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
A purple and black flag of mourning is draped on the South Holland Firehouse. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
A purple and black flag of mourning is draped on the South Holland Firehouse. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

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