CLAYTON, Mo. – A legacy lost in the sand, was found in Florida, and returned in Clayton.
“He kicked around in the sand and found a badge. A badge that was laying there,” said Clayton Fire Department Chief John Paul Jones. “And it’s a gold badge. And it’s a retiree’s badge. And it said Clayton Fire Department. And the name on it was Roy Weckherlin. It was a kind of a strange series of events that came together; almost like they were meant to be.”
A Florida man who found the badge on a beach mailed it to the Clayton Fire Department in 2016. Now four years later, the badge has found its true home with Jill Halsey, the retired firefighter’s daughter.
“I got lucky and connected the dots,” Chief Jones said.
Jones made calls and found extended family in Florida, only to discover Weckherlin’s daughter back here in the St. Louis area.
“She was amazed that she had actually been down to Florida and she had lost the badge inadvertently,” Jones said. And she is pretty excited to get it back.”
Weckherlin, who has since passed away, once served as the Clayton assistant fire chief and was appointed the city’s first fire marshal in 1956. He was a pioneer for the city of Clayton fire code.
“Being the first fire marshal, that certainly was the foundation,” said Paul Mercurio, assistant chief fire marshal for the Clayton Fire Department. “Having him lay that foundation—generations and generations after that—has really paid off for our community.”