John "Squire" Dillon

January 14, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in paying tribute to a man whose passing has left my community, and our nation, with one less hero. Former Onondaga County Sheriff John Dillon died January 14, 1999 and Central New Yorkers will grieve the loss for a long time to come.

The quintessential ``Irish cop'', John Dillon was known far and wide as a man of great humor, deep compassion and innate fairness. It should also be said that he was tough. Throughout his four-decade career, he was the epitome of the public safety provider. In fact, to many he was the face of law enforcement in Central New York.

John Dillon was a personal friend, so I know his attributes well, among them natural leadership. He was greatly respected by the men and women in uniform.

A devout Catholic and loving family man, John Dillon was fiercely proud of his Irish ancestry. When the Irish Ambassador at the time, Dermot Gallagher, visited Syracuse in 1997, it was John Dillon who regaled the Ambassador with the history of the West End of Syracuse, the home to many immigrant families.

With great pride and his characteristic dry wit, John Dillon recalled the layout of the neighborhood and, using nicknames for the colorful characters of his youth, told a touching story of an entire generation of Irish immigrant families.He told of the Stonethrowers, the young men who defied city officials by repeatedly breaking the red light over the green on the traffic light at the main intersection of Tipperary Hill on the West End.Never would the English red sit atop the Irish green, he told Ambassador Gallagher with fervor. And today, he pointed out, the green sits atop the red in one traffic light in America, Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, the birthplace of John Dillon.

The man we came to respect and so deeply admire served 25 years with the Syracuse Police Department before retiring as the First Deputy Police Chief. He was elected Onondaga County Sheriff later that year and held that post until retirement in 1994.I want to add my sincere condolences to John's wonderful wife Ginny and their children. And I ask my colleagues to join me in this moment of recognition for a public official who served his community well.