James Raymond

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James Raymond (1915-1978), was a school custodian in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and was employed as head custodian at the Our Lady of the Angels School from 1945 to 1965. When a fire broke out at the school on December 1, 1958, Mr. Raymond was responsible for saving the lives of the students and teacher in one of the second floor classrooms. Four of his own children in school that day also survived the fire.

James Raymond was born in Holland, Michigan and moved to Chicago in 1938. He married and began his job at the church and school in 1945.

Distraught by the events of December 1, 1958, and by unfounded accusations that he had set fire to the building, Raymond descended into alcoholism and was let go from his position in 1965. He died a broken man in 1978 of cancer.

Some feel Mr. Raymond was unjustly blamed for the fire and today there is an effort by survivors of the fire, led by the Friends of OLA organization, to have the Chicago city government pass a resolution proclaiming Mr. Raymond a hero, instead of being the person responsible. Also, there is a scholarship named for James Raymond awarded each year to a child of a Firefighter by Friends of OLA. Including notable St. Patrick alumnus, Danny Bowery, grandson of Thomas Power, one of the many Chicago firefighters who battled that blaze.

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  • , by Eric Morgan



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