In 1958, 92 children and three nuns died in the Our Lady of Angels School fire on Chicago’s West Side. That day was seared into the memories of all who lived in that city.
One image that became a touchstone for many was of firefighter Richard Scheidt carrying John Jajkowski out of the smoldering building. This photograph became world famous and eventually was made into a fire safety poster.
Early Life and Education
john jajkowski was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He was an accomplished musician who played the accordion and sang in the boy’s choir. He planned to become a priest. He was a fifth grader at Our Lady of Angels School in Room 212 when he died. His death was caused by smoke inhalation.
A photograph of firefighter Richard Scheidt carrying the lifeless body of 10-year-old john jajkowski out of the smoldering remains of Our Lady of Angels school became world-famous, and it eventually was used as a fire prevention poster. In fact, it was the defining image of the Our Lady of Angels fire that swept across Chicago and engulfed 92 children and three nuns. It remains a powerful reminder of everything that is right about firefighters, and john jajkowski is a testament to their courage and compassion.
john jajkowski was born in Poland. He was a firefighter, and his career took him to Chicago, Illinois. During his time as a firefighter, he served in several neighborhoods. He was also a member of the fire department’s rescue squad. He was one of the first firefighters to respond to the Our Lady of the Angels School fire, which killed 92 children and three nuns on the West Side.
Despite the tragic loss of his life, he is remembered as a hero by many. His picture was used in a fire safety poster, and he is considered a role model for many firefighters.
He is survived by his wife, Josephine T., and sons Steve (Carol) and Johnny. A visitation is scheduled on Sunday from 2 to 8 PM at Skaja Terrace Funeral Home in Niles.