Schaumburg honored the memory of its only police officer to die in the line of duty by dedicating a street on his old patrol beat Friday as Honorary Officer Frank Russo Way, exactly five years after his passing.
The candlelight vigil at the Public Safety Memorial in front of the police station was held in conjunction with roll call for the midnight shift, on which Russo spent 13 of his 19 years with the department.
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The honorary renaming of Hammond Drive between Algonquin Road and Palmer Drive will be marked with a street sign at the Algonquin Road intersection.
Russo's widow, Jenny, received a replica of the street sign at Friday night's ceremony.
The vigil was opened by the Schaumburg Police Honor Guard and concluded with a bagpipe performance by another officer.
During the ceremony, former colleagues of Russo shared memories of an especially beloved member of the force.
Both police officers and family members recalled a man with a big personality, a great love for life and unwavering loyalty.
Jenny Russo said she and the family were touched that her late husband's memory was still so strong for so many people that they wanted to honor him in this way.
"I think at this point we can smile," she said of the warm and funny memories recalled.
Frank Russo's sister, Sandy Russo, agreed.
"I don't think people should come here to be sad," she said. "He was so much fun. My brother was a good time."
Frank Russo was 47 years old when he died of undiagnosed hypertensive cardiovascular disease while struggling with an unruly customer being ejected from John Barleycorn nightclub after midnight on Halloween night in 2008.
Russo -- a martial arts black belt and avid scuba diver and weight lifter who lived in McHenry County -- became a single father when his first wife, Francine, died of breast cancer about a decade before his own death.
He met his second wife, Jenny, when he hired her as an au pair to look after his two young children after their mother's death.
Russo's son, Frank Jr., is now 22 and works security at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.
His daughter, Teresa, is now 20 and studying law at Loyola University in Chicago.