Father Joseph F. Ognibene, a Roman Catholic priest who helped rescue students from a burning school in the 1950s, died on Dec. 27 from cancer. He was 77.
Ognibene was working as a parish priest in Chicago on Dec. 1, 1958 when fire broke out in a stairwell at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School.
Ognibene saw the smoke and immediately ran into the school to help lead children to safety. He directed the students downstairs toward the exits and carried some of them out of the building. With the aid of Sam Tortorice, a man who lived near the school, Ognibene transferred students trapped in one classroom to an adjoining classroom where they could safely evacuate.
When the fire was extinguished, Ognibene visited the injured at the hospital and identified victims at the morgue. Three teachers and 92 students died in the incident.