By Grace Wong
CARPENTERSVILLE, Ill. — The body of a Carpentersville Fire Department battalion chief who died unexpectedly this week have been returned to the Chicago area with firefighter honors.
Todd Middendorf, described as a "cornerstone" of the department, died Tuesday while on vacation. He was 46 and had been with the department for 23 years.
Neither officials nor Middendorf's family has disclosed how he died or where.
Middendorf's remains were flown Thursday to O'Hare International Airport, where the Chicago Fire Department greeted the plane with a water arch provided by the Chicago Fire Department.
The firefighter-paramedic's body was then escorted back to Carpentersville by the local fire and police departments. At the Jane Addams Tollway at Illinois Highway 31, the procession was joined by firetrucks from Elgin, East Dundee, West Dundee and Rutland Dundee Fire Protection District.
Tara Dudde, one of Middendorf's sisters, said the death was unexpected.
"We're trying to do the best we can. My parents are taking it very hard," she said. "He was (the oldest of five siblings) and always said he had to pave the way for us younger ones."
Middendorf's grew up on a family farm near Hazel Green, Wis., and his strong ties to the state remained apparent in his loyalty to the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers, his family said. He loved to get to his family together for cookouts and regaling his family with stories, punctuating them with phrases like "Do you hear me? Do you know what I mean?" when he felt that his relatives' attention might be waning.
He was outgoing and good at making others feel comfortable, his family said.
Middendorf started his firefighting career as a a part-time volunteer in Hazel Green. His sister said he aspired to be like their mother, who was an EMT.
"He wanted to follow his mom's footsteps in helping people in emergency situations," his sister said. "He had a passion for helping people."
In addition to his sister, Middendorf is survived by his wife, Daisy, son Tyler, parents Gerry and Barb Middendorf, brothers Troy and Tim, and another sister, Tami DeMuth.
Services are set for Thursday at St. Mary Catholic Church, 10307 Dundee Road in Huntley. Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m., with a fire department walk through at 6 p.m. followed by a funeral mass at 7 p.m.
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