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May 30, 2003

By BRAD BURKE

of the Journal Star

PEORIA - When Wayne Peplow signed up to be a volunteer firefighter in the mid-1960s, one of the questions on his application asked why he wanted to join the department.

Peplow's answer: "To fight fires."

That response now serves as a fitting tribute to Peplow, the late chief of Dunlap's volunteer Fire Department who friends describe as a man of few words but of immeasurable action.

"He didn't make it hard" to understand him, Deputy Chief John Doering said of Peplow, 59, who died Sunday, three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

About 30 department volunteers stood at attention outside Peoria's Woolsey-Wilton Funeral Home on Thursday as the casket holding their chief of 21 years was lifted onto a brilliant yellow fire truck adorned with black cloth.

It was the second time in less than a week the department has buried one of its own. On May 23, they somberly saluted the casket of James Mulay, a Peoria County sheriff's deputy and Dunlap firefighter who died in an auto accident May 19.

"Your family has endured a double whammy, and so our hearts go out to you," the Rev. Jack Thompson, who presided over Peplow's funeral, told the firefighters in attendance.

As at Mulay's funeral, members of several area fire departments attended Peplow's service. They wore neatly pressed uniforms with patches from such cities as Chillicothe, Brimfield, Peoria, East Peoria and others.

Peplow grew up in West Peoria and joined the Fire Department there in the mid-1960s. In 1975, he joined Dunlap's department after he and his wife, Jane, built a home there.

Peplow struggled much of his life with Crohn's disease, which affects the small intestine and can cause abdominal pain, bleeding and weight loss. He worked at Caterpillar Inc. for 37 years, and after his retirement he spent time as a fire investigator.

Dunlap's respected fire chief dies

Wayne Peplow, 59, oversaw second station, designed equipment

May 26, 2003

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