Fans and friends gathered at a Northwest Side funeral home Monday to pay respects to Dennis Farina, the Chicago cop whose Hollywood career made him America's cop.
The man whom mourners described as they filed out of the wake was a quintessential Chicago guy who never let fame from "Law & Order," "Saving Private Ryan" and other major productions go to his head. Farina, 69, died last week in Arizona, of a blood clot in his lung.
Jo Zillmann, of Palatine, said Farina was a regular at the cafe where she worked during his time with the Chicago Police Department.
Farina, who spent 18 years on the force, would always ask what kinds of eggs they served, Zillmann said.
"'Well, there aren't that many choices,'" she'd respond. "That was our big joke."
Ron Schlobohm said he worked in the same division as Farina on the police force. They kept in touch over the years and had spoken just a couple of months ago.
"We hung around once in a while," Schlobohm said. "Nice guy."
Others who came to the wake said they were disgusted with the striking union members picketing in front of Montclair-Lucania Funeral Home. The funeral directors and drivers, members of Teamsters Local 727, have been on strike since early July after contract negotiations with the funeral home's owners fell through.
Teamsters spokesman Brian Rainville said the protest was of the company owners and had nothing to do with Farina. He said the union contacted family members before the wake, alerted them to the contract disagreements and encouraged them to use a different funeral home.
Cathy Peters, who said she was a longtime friend of the Farina family, joined the picket line as a one-woman counterprotest, with a sign that read "Shame on you" and "Leave my friends alone." Peters, of Morton Grove, said Farina's son and daughter-in-law were upset with the picketing. The wake and funeral, Peters said, were prearranged, right down to the song selections.
"The Farina family should not be punished," Peters said. "When something hits you like that, the last thing you need is this."
Peters also joined Farina's family inside the funeral home, where close friends and longtime fans gathered to say goodbye. Reporters weren't allowed on the property, which was surrounded by a notable contingent of uniformed police.
Farina grew up in the Old Town neighborhood, where he attended St. Michael Grammar School and St. Michael Central High. After serving in the Army, he joined the Police Department. He later became a detective. His funeral is at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Assumption Catholic Church, 323 W. Illinois St.
Lorraine Hennke, of Norridge, didn't know Farina but said she was a longtime fan of his acting and his life story. Hennke said it was important that she offer her respects Monday.
"When he acted, you looked and listened," Hennke said. "There was something about him. He drew you in."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun