By Kim Bell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A firefighter who died of an apparent heart attack the day after a Jefferson County house fire will be honored with a special funeral service reserved for line-of-duty deaths.
Lt. Ronald W. Wehlage Jr. of the De Soto Rural Fire Protection District was found dead in his home June 30 when he failed to show up for work.
Visitation was held Tuesday and the funeral will be Wednesday. Several other fire agencies will be covering for De Soto so its firefighters can attend the services. Because of the coronavirus, only small groups will be allowed into the funeral and at the graveside service. The send-off will include bagpipes and a bell-ringing ceremony.
Black bunting is draped at fire station No. 1 where he worked. His body will be carried to the gravesite on the same fire truck to which he was assigned, said the district’s fire chief, Tom Fitzgerald.
Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday ordered U.S. and Missouri flags to be flown at half-staff in Jefferson County and at fire stations across the state in Wehlage’s honor.
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