Fallen St. Louis firefighter was deeply religious, ‘carried his Bible to work with him’

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ST. LOUIS – As a firefighter, Rodney Heard saved countless lives while on the job. But the lives he touched the most were at home.

“It’s like we got a real superhero in our house, every day,” Heard’s daughter, Arriel Briggs, said.

Heard was a devoted husband for 23 years, a father to six children, and grandfather to 29 grandchildren. He died June 16 following a several-week long battle with COVID-19. He was 56.

“It was disbelief – because you never think he’ll leave or he’ll be gone,” Heard’s daughter, Marissa Pritchard, said.

Heard had worked for the St. Louis Fire Department for 22 years, most recently as a fuel truck driver.

Friends, family, and colleagues describe him as a man of deep faith.

“He carried his Bible to work with him, where he’d pray any time he had time to,” his son, Roderic “Vel” Heard, said.

His death has been designated as a line-of-duty death, as recognized by state and federal law.

Heard grew up in the Cochran Gardens apartments north of downtown. His influence was felt by many other families.

“When we called our friends to tell them what had happened, they cried. They would tell us stories, like when they came to our house, he was their dad, too. Because they didn’t have dads in their home. But he was their dad. A father a figure to all of us,” daughter Arriel Briggs said.

Heard’s funeral will take place next Monday, June 28. He is the ninth first responder in Missouri to die of complications related to COVID-19.

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