YORKVILLE – C.G. Fifield of Newark, a retired Illinois State Police trooper, said he knew Special Agent Robert Kolowski as someone who was always dressed to impress – like he should be at a recruiting post for the state police.
Fifield said Kolowski was a very hard-working guy during the time he worked with him in District 5 of the Illinois State Police and that they were personal friends, both of them having kids that were about the same age. Fifield said he was also at the hospital when Kolowski died after suffering a heart attack while on duty in Joliet on Feb. 25, 1993.
"He was the best of the best," Fifield said.
The Kendall County Association of Chiefs of Police held a memorial honoring Kolowski late Wednesday morning at the Kendall County Courthouse, 807 John St. Kolowski's name was added to the memorial outside of the courthouse after the association received a nomination to do so in 2018.
Oswego Police Chief Jeff Burgner said Kolowski served in the Kendall County area for about 20 years while working for the Illinois State Police. He said it's really humbling to be able to add his name to the memorial.
"It's an honor to go back and pay tribute to the officers that have died," Burgner said.
Brendan Kelly, director of Illinois State Police, said Kolowski was 46 years old when he suffered the heart attack. He said it's important to remind leaders and residents the sacrifices that officers have made and the strain the job puts on people.
Kelly said it's been a rough year for Illinois State Police with three troopers dying while on duty so far. He said ceremonies like this ensure that the lives of those who die on duty are not forgotten.
"Twenty-six years later, we have proven that Robert Kolowski has not been forgotten," Kelly said.
Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird said the event happens to come just before National Police Week, which runs from May 12 through May 18. He said it's important to acknowledge and remember not only those who have fallen on duty, but to also show respect for their families.
"You never know when it could be the end of your watch," Baird said.
The addition of Kolowski's name to the memorial comes after William Burgholzer Jr., an Oswego police officer, was the first name to be added to the memorial when it was completed in 2016. Burgholzer also suffered a fatal heart attack in January 1972 while he was searching for robbery suspects.
The police memorial, with the idea first being conceived in 2013, was estimated to cost about $70,000 total. Burgner said the memorial was paid in full by fundraising efforts.
Various family members of Kolowski's – including his son Tim, who is an officer for the Yorkville Police Department – attended the ceremony.
Tim Kolowski said he became a police officer because he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He said it was good to see that a lot of lives in the community were touched by his father and it's an honor to have his father's name on the Kendall County memorial.
"It brings back a lot of good memories," Tim Kolowski said.
Burgner said dozens of officers from several law enforcement agencies within Kendall County – including Aurora, Joliet and Sandwich – participated in the ceremony.
Fifield said it was good to see Robert Kolowski's name be added to the memorial because Kolowski really deserved the recognition.
"Really, this was the least we could do for him," Fifield said.