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King Lockhart Park Project Lets Retired Fireman Honor a Fallen Friend

By Howard Ludwig | November 26, 2013 6:37am
 Donald G. Ranos, a retired firefighter, has fabricated a pair of crossed ladders for the entrance of King Lockhart Park in Beverly.
King Lockhart Park
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BEVERLY — Donald G. Ranos, of Hegewisch, has expertise in two things — metal and fire.

A combination of his two passions will soon be on display at the entrance of King Lockhart Park, 10615 S. Western Ave., in Beverly.

Ranos, a retired firefighter, fabricated a pair of iron structures that look like crossed ladders — a common symbol used by the Chicago Fire Department to honor fallen firefighters.

The crossed ladders will stand sentinel at the half-acre park where Anthony Lockhart and Patrick King died. The property previously belonged to the Beverly Tire Store. Black smoke filled the air as the tire store became engulfed in flames on Feb. 11, 1998.

King and Lockhart, both 41, were killed when the roof collapsed.

"I worked with Tony Lockhart," Ranos said. "He was hysterical. He was a lot of fun."

Ranos retired Dec. 31 after 33 years with the Fire Department. On his off days, he'd dabble as an ironworker, repairing fences, handrails and patio furniture from his two-car garage that doubles as a metal shop.

Brian Livermore, of Beverly, was part of the team that helped design the park. Livermore is also a firefighter and worked with Ranos prior to his retirement. When the crossed-ladder structure was agreed upon, Livermore immediately called Ranos.

"When Don looked at the project, he said, 'I can do this in my garage,'" Livermore said.

Soon, Ranos and his father, Donald R. Ranos, began working on the project. Donald's brothers Richard and George Ranos also pitched in. All of the Ranos men are either retired or active firefighters. They finished the ladders in just four days.

"I mentioned it to my family, and my dad had worked with [Lockhart] too," Ranos said.

The ladders are scheduled to be installed at the park at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Livermore said.

The ornamental entrance is just part of the second phase of King Lockhart Park. In September, the city announced an $87,000 upgrade of the park that will also include a memorial sculpture.

Marshall Svendsen, of True Form Productions in Humboldt Park, has been tapped to build the last remaining piece for the park. His sculpture will feature a firefighter with a young child sitting on his shoulders.

Svendsen said he will start sculpting a clay model of the piece in January. A rubber mold of the sculpture will follow. Then, a ceramic mold will be made that will lead to the final metal casting. He hopes to be done with the project in September.

"I am excited to be moving forward with it. It a really cool project to be involved with," Svendsen said.

Ald. Matthew O'Shea (19th) praised Ranos and Livermore for the crossed ladders, along with other firefighters and the families of Anthony Lockhart and Patrick King.

"Everybody has had a hand in this," O'Shea said. The firefighters "really took the ball. This is a wonderful team effort."