ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The procession of honor for Lt. Fire Marshall Ronald Wehlage Jr. carried to his final resting place on a De Soto firetruck and the DeSoto Rural Fire Protection District he loved.
“Ron was with for us almost 18 years,” De Soto Fire Chief Thomas Fitzgerald said. “I spent almost all that time with him. Genuinely a fabulous guy, Eagle Scout, he cared about people; just a wonderful person.”
Tuesday evening began the procession of honor during visitation outside of Mahn Funeral Home in DeSoto. On Wednesday morning, the procession of honor and first response agencies lining the route from De Soto to south St. Louis County.
“He gave his life serving our community and helping protect everybody and I think there’s no greater honor,” Fitzgerald said. “He truly lived that in the help he gave family and friends and us at the firehouse every day. We tried to honor that.”
“Very impressive to see all the different districts come out in support of the family last night and both this morning,” said Todd Mahn, owner of Mahn Funeral Homes. “It’s a great honor and well deserved.”
Wehlage spent 18 years with DeSoto Rural Fire Protection District and 3 years before that with Hillsboro Fire Protection District. It’s that service to his community which brought first responders and firetrucks from across the bi-state region.
“You know, they work a 48-hour shift at our firehouse, so that crew one third of their life is the firehouse,” Fitzgerald said. “The connection is the service. We’re all in it for the same reasons regardless of the jurisdiction you’re from and we take great pride in trying to give that support to the agency and family that’s suffered that loss.”