"He was a really fun-loving guy who would give his life for anybody else," Brandes said. "He proved that."
Buehne started in the fire service as a private, worked his way up to captain and was Affton's assistant chief for about 20 years before taking over as chief, Albright said.
His son, Tim Buehne, followed his father's career path. Tim Buehne is a captain with the Fenton fire district. Jerry and Donna Buehne also have a daughter, Cindy Siegel, of San Diego, and four grandchildren.
Boyle, the Fenton chief, referred to Buehne as "the dean" of area chiefs who've been in their positions a fairly short time. "He was always the calming voice," Boyle said. "He was just a remarkable influence."
Al Kirchhofer, a retired Affton firefighter, said of the chief: "Firefighting was his life. He wouldn't even tell you the good things he did. He never bragged about himself. All he cared about was the fire department."
Kirchhofer became an Affton firefighter in 1961, a year before Buehne joined the department. "It's just a shock to us that he won't be there any more," Kirchhofer said. "He'd always be one of the first guys in to help whenever he was needed."
Full firefighters honor funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, March 14 at the Faith Lutheran Church, 6101 Telegraph Rd., Oakville. The funeral procession will pass Affton Fire Station #1 and proceed to Resurrection Cemetery, 6901 McKenzie, Affton.