Felix Was Only A Dog ….. "Only" A Dog
A Historical Vignette
by Tom Parquette
The Community Recognizes Their Hero!
When Felix, the dog, wasn't busy saving babies or his fellow firefighters, he was the defacto public information officer for Engine Company 25, at least with all of the children in the neighborhood. The kids loved him, and Felix loved them and the attention they gave him.
But, the time Felix would spend with the fire service was to be limited. The versions of the passing of Felix are many. One has him dying of excess consumption of the rich firehouse food. Not likely. Another has him the victim of a poisoning. Also not likely, thanks to our sort of 'eye witness'. No, it seems Felix rode the engine to a fire one day in 1926 and in his excitement to get to work, he jumped from the engine berth and into the path of a car. Felix was dead on the scene. A terrible loss to the fire company and to the community for Felix was not an ordinary dog by any measure.
Deputy District Chief Richard Wirtz of the CFD noted that his father worked at Engine Company 25 as a fireman sometime after Felix died and that the firemen were still talking about what a great animal Felix was.
The neighborhood schools were closed the day of Felix funeral. The funeral took place in the Engine Co. 25 firehouse. Felix was laid out for the wake in a specially constructed mahogany casket hand made by a local furniture company and donated for Felix. All the school kids in the area attended and the firemen picked out six of them, three boys and three girls that held a special place for Felix and appointed them pall bearers.
The district chief at that time, wanted Felix buried somewhere on his route home to his family's place so they chose a spot which is now a forest preserve area in Palos Hills. The funeral procession was well attended and the firemen arranged for a headstone for Felix which simply said, "Felix No. 25 CFD". Felix the Fire Dog was buried with full honors befitting a professional firefighter. No mention that he was a dog. He wasn't, to them.
And then, with the passing of time, while the lore often remained, the memory of Felix faded over the years. It faded until 1986 when Darlene Filis, a Palos Hills librarian was handed a picture and a cut out article about the funeral of Felix along with a sort of map. The lady who handed her this information was none other than Karen Golema the granddaughter of the owner of Molis Coal Company, who started it all. Darlene realized that the grave of Felix was only hundreds of feet from the library in Palos Hills. Darlene became obsessed with learning more about Felix and his history and the more she learned, the more she became determined that this remarkable animal deserved a fitting monument. Over the next twelve years Darlene and her daughter would raise money by sending out flyers and having fund raisers for Felix and his monument. Finally in 1998, The monument to Felix, the Heroic Chicago Fire Dog, was complete. Cast by Gurneee, Illinois artist, Michael Froding at a cost of $10,260 the monument was finally in place.
Felix the Fire Dog. The half breed mongrel who adopted (or was adopted by) Engine Company 25 long ago. The same Felix who Barnum & Bailey Circus traveled to Chicago to see. That Felix. The dog that worked in a different city, now buried in a different town. The dog that never met Darlene Filis. Yes, that Felix, the four legged firefighter with the nerves of steel and the heart of gold will live on in the hearts of many and enter the hearts of the curious through his monument to heroic fame. "Here, boy!"
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