On Christmas morning last month, Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Dennis Engelhard
said goodbye to his partner of 15 years and left for work, never to return.
While assisting a stranded motorist on Interstate 44 near Eureka, Engelhard was struck and killed by an SUV that lost control in the ice and snow.
Left out the news stories that followed was that Engelhard, 49, was gay. He and his partner Kelly Glossip lived together in Franklin County, where they helped raise Glossip's son from a previous marriage.
Glossip tells Daily RFT
that the two men lived an open and committed relationship.
"There were no problems with Dennis' sexual orientation within the Highway Patrol -- at least not in Troop C (Engelhard's post that incorporates St. Louis and surrounding counties)," says Glossip, 43.
Still, Glossip says that his relationship with Engelhard has gone unnoticed when it comes to the survivor benefits and charities that assist the families of fallen law officers.
Glossip has yet to be contacted by Backstoppers
, a Missouri outreach organization that describes itself as "a benevolent fund for the financial aid of a trooper's immediate
surviving family member (wife or husband) and children if he or she is
killed in the line of duty."
Engelhard and Glossip cannot be "wife or husband" in Missouri as the state does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Glossip says he's unsure what -- if any -- benefits he'll receive from the highway patrol. (A call made to the police agency was not immediate returned.)
Glossip, who works for a medical billing firm, says he's concerned he might lose his home now that his partner -- and his income -- are gone. Christ Church Cathedral
where Glossip and Engelhard regularly attended services has now established a memorial fund to assist Glossip. In addition, the downtown St. Louis church is hosting a memorial service this Saturday at 2 p.m. to honor Engelhard.
In recent days a few gay-rights agencies such as Show Me No Hate
have publicized Glossip's plight and drawn attention to Missouri laws that prohibit same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits as married couples.
That said, Glossip says the service on Saturday will be non-political.
"It will be a celebration of his life and provide me -- and everyone -- some closure."
Those interested in contributing to Engelhard's memorial fund, can send a contribution to the Christ Church Cathedral at:
The Dennis Engelhard Memorial Fund
c/o Christ Church Cathedral
1210 Locust Street
Saint Louis, MO 63101