John Chepelevich, 60, of Southwest Philadelphia, a retired Philadelphia firefighter, died Monday of apparent heart failure at a Philadelphia Housing Authority office in South Philadelphia.
Mr. Chepelevich had been a safety officer for the Housing Authority since retiring as a lieutenant with the Philadelphia Fire Department in 1999. He was a platoon leader at Engine 40 in Southwest Philadelphia.
He loved the camaraderie of the firehouse and preparing meals for his crew, his daughter Rachael Kelly said. During his 28-year career, he received a commendation for a fire rescue and, in the 1970s, received an award from Mayor Frank Rizzo for capturing a criminal. He was on a call and jumped off the fire truck to run after a man who had sexually assaulted a woman, his daughter said.
Mr. Chepelevich graduated from West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys in 1964 and then served in the Air Force in Florida. After his discharge, he worked at Bell Telephone for six months before joining the Fire Department in 1970. His father, Victor, was also a Philadelphia firefighter.
Since 1967, Mr. Chepelevich had been married to Regina Roman Chepelevich. They grew up around the corner from each other in Southwest Philadelphia. He loved family vacations at the Jersey Shore, their daughter said, and spending time at the Atlantic City casinos. He was a good handyman and available to fix anything from a flat tire to a crashed computer, she said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Chepelevich is survived by a son, Christopher; a daughter, Natalie Frye; a sister; and three grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church, 233 Mohawk Ave., Norwood. Friends may call from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Cavanagh Funeral Home, 301 Chester Pike, Norwood. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Springfield.