Heroic police officer dies of natural causes after 40 years of service

Tribune reporter

Chicago Police Officer Michael Daliege served the Monroe District for 40 years, including putting his life on the line to take care of residents in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The veteran officer, 63, died today of natural causes in hospice care only weeks after retiring from the force in mid-September, according to his son.

Daliege started his career with the police force on April 1, 1972, according to a colleague.

He retired on Sept. 17 after working with the same partner for 25 years, said Sgt. Adam Zelitzky.

“He was an honorable man, and that is the best way to describe him,” Zelitzky said. “People loved being around him, and he loved coming to work.”

Daliege's third grandchild, Michael, named after him, was born the day he retired, one day before his 63rd birthday, said his daughter, Maureen Daliege.

"I'm glad he got a chance to meet his grandson," she said. "He was all about his family."

Maureen recalled her father working security for the Chicago Transit Authority and the UIC Pavilion to earn extra money.

"He would work three and four jobs so we could have the biggest Christmas, and he did the same for his grandchildren," she said.

Maureen added he was preparing to purchase a ranch in Texas where her brother lives because he loved the country atmosphere.

Maureen said her father never worked a desk job and was always a beat cop who enjoyed his career as an officer.

His heroism was shown on Aug. 11, 2008 when Daliege and fellow Monroe District Officer Laura Agin risked their lives alerting dozens of residents in three buildings that were eventually consumed by fire in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The two spotted the fire in the early morning hours and ran into one of the three buildings on the 1500 block of West 18th Street to alert residents.

The rapidly spreading fire was elevated to a 3-11 alarm and more than 30 residents were displaced, but none injured, officials said.

Both Daliege and Agin had to be treated for smoke inhalation, and at the time described the scene as "scary" but their own life-saving actions as "automatic."

"They risked their own lives to save them," a Monroe District lieutenant said after the fire.

Police News Affairs was not able to provide immediate information about Officer Daliege or his service with the department. 

Survivors include his wife, Kathleen Daliege; his children Maureen Daliege and Kevin (Brandi) Daliege; and his 3 grandchildren, Addison, Mackenzie and Michael Daliege. 

The youngest of 11 children, Officer Daliege was uncle to dozens of nieces and nephews.

Viewing will be held on Friday, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Woodlawn Funeral Home located at 7750 Cermak Road in Forest Park. A funeral Mass will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church located at 5337 S. Natoma Ave. in Chicago. 

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