Monday, May 12, 2008

RIP - John O. Chadwick

Upper St. Clair FBI agent enjoyed every aspect of his work

By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Monday, May 12, 2008

In an understatement full of meaning, John O. Chadwick was known around the Pittsburgh FBI office as a "good guy" other agents enjoyed working with, his son said.

"Even though it seems like an off-hand comment, it's actually a true compliment, because in the law enforcement world, that means that they absolutely trust that person with their lives," said son David Chadwick, 35, of Quakertown, Pa.

John O. Chadwick of Upper St. Clair died Friday, May 9, 2008 at home from pancreatic cancer. He was 65.

A native of Columbus, Ga. who was raised in Alexandria, Va., Mr. Chadwick joined the FBI in 1969 as a special agent and retired in 2000. He served in New Haven, Conn. before being transferred to Pittsburgh in 1971. He lived in Mt. Lebanon before moving to Upper St. Clair in 1979.

Born in a poor rural area, Mr. Chadwick believed education was the key to furthering himself and embarked on a career as a history teacher in Fairfax County, Va. Public Schools before a high school friend recruited him to the FBI.

"That was not something he had considered prior to that. I guess his friend kind of sold him on some of the missions and goals of the FBI," David Chadwick said. "One of the best parts of his job was he got to meet new people every day. Some of them were bad guys, others were just regular, everyday people he would have to go interview for various cases he was working."

Mr. Chadwick first worked in fugitives, later transferring to counterintelligence.

"I really don't know a whole lot about that work because most of that work is still classified," David Chadwick said.

While in Connecticut as a first-year agent, Mr. Chadwick arrested a suspect then on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. In Pittsburgh, he served on the Special Weapons and Tactics Team for more than 20 years and was a firearms instructor and fitness coordinator.

At 6 foot 7, Mr. Chadwick was an imposing man, but he had a thoughtful and gentle personality, said his co-worker and friend, Jerry Pino, 66, of Shaler. Both were officers in the Pittsburgh chapter of the Society of Former Agents of the FBI.

"He enjoyed his work. He had a variety of work and enjoyed 99 percent of it, and looked forward to going to work as most agents do. He looked at is as one of the better jobs people paid you to do. It's something you could be proud of," Pino said.

Mr. Chadwick was proud of his work and disappointed at having to leave at the mandatory retirement age, relatives and friends said. After retiring, Mr. Chadwick, a father of three boys, worked until last year selling uniforms to police, fire and ambulance departments just to stay in touch with law enforcement.

"He was a good father. He always took an interest in what the boys were doing. He took us to our soccer games and Little League games," David Chadwick said. "He was always aware of the criminal element. He was always aware and cautious of things and taught us boys to be that way also."

In addition to his son, Mr. Chadwick is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Chadwick, of Upper St. Clair; two other sons, Michael Chadwick of Swedesboro, N.J., and Andrew Chadwick of Silver Spring, Md.; his mother, Lydia Chadwick of Alexandria, Va.; and three grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his father, Jack B. Chadwick, and a brother, Conrad Chadwick.

Visitation will be from 3 p.m. until a brief memorial service at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, 301 Curry Hollow Road, Pleasant Hills. Another service will be at 5 p.m. Thursday at St. John's Lutheran Church, 1802 Skippack Pike, Center Square, Montgomery County.

The family asks that memorials be in the form of contributions to Family Hospice and Palliative Care, 50 Moffett St., Pittsburgh, PA 15243 or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245.

Brian C. Rittmeyer can be reached at or 724-779-7108.

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