Thousands Gather for Ankum's Funeral

Corey Ankum killed in roof collapse last week

Mayor Richard Daley knew fallen firefighter Corey Ankum well.

"Corey was a true defender in every sense of the word," Daley said at the funeral for the fallen firefighter Thursday. " He was devoted to protecting everyone. All the time, every time I spoke to him, the first thing he said: 'I love the fire department.'  It wasn't just a job for him, it was a way of life."

Ankum's wife, Demeka Ankum, has served the mayor for the last 10 years as one of his executive assistants.  To her and their children, Daley extended his "deepest sympathy on behalf of every Chicagoan and my family."

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff recounted how other firefighters referred to Ankum as a "ringer" -- a standout first responder -- and had quickly earned the respect of his peers in his short time with the department.

"We are all better for having him on our department, and we are all lesser now that he's gone," said Hoff.

Thousands of grieving friends, family and coworkers were on hand at  Woodlawn's Apostolic Church of God for the service that firefighters prefer to call a "coming home ceremony" rather than a funeral.

Ankum was on his second call of the day last Wednesday when the roof of an abandoned laundry gave way, also killing Chicago firefighter Edward Stringer.  Stringer was laid to rest on Tuesday.

"It's been a horrendous week for all of us," Tom Ryan, the President of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, said a day earlier at Ankum's wake.  "We still have our jobs to do. It just makes it difficult when something like this weighs as heavily as it does."

Another firefighter who was re-admitted to the hospital Wednesday after developing "complications" was temporarily released so he could attend Ankum's funeral.  The firefighter, who has not been publicly named, was to return to the hospital for follow-up care, said department spokesman Larry Langford.

Following the services, Ankum's remains were interred at Lincoln Cemetery in Alsip.

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