Gov. Tim Walz ordered all federal and state flags to fly at half-staff Tuesday in honor of a St. Joseph, Minn., firefighter who died from illness that he contracted in the line of duty.

Capt. Andy Loso, 42, died Nov. 23 from COVID-19, according to St. Joseph Fire Chief Jeff Taufen, who said Loso's death is "a tough one to swallow."

"You hear there's COVID all over the state or the United States, but when it actually hits home, it's a little harder," he said Monday.

Loso is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lisa, and children Joseph, Jack and Katie. Lisa Loso said her husband spent a little more than two weeks in the hospital with COVID-19.

"He was a great husband and father to my kids. He was a great man," Lisa Loso said. "It's a great honor for him to be recognized for his service."

The state flies its flags at half-staff following the death of Minnesota first responders fallen in the line of duty. Individuals, business and other organizations are also encouraged to lower their flags.

"Captain Loso was a dedicated firefighter who was respected by his family, friends and colleagues," Walz's proclamation said. "With its deepest gratitude, the State of Minnesota recognizes Captain Loso for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow Minnesotans, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and community."

Loso grew up in St. Joseph, graduating from Apollo High School in St. Cloud in 1997 and St. John's University in Collegeville in 2001. He was the facilities manager for the Church of St. Joseph and a member of the Great Northern Model T Club, the St. Joseph Historical Society and the Albany Pioneer Club.

Loso followed the family tradition of joining the volunteer fire department, where he served for 19 years.

"His grandfather was a chief at one time years ago. His dad was a captain and an assistant chief," Taufen said. "His dad was on [the department] when Andy got on. His brothers got on when Andy got on. It was kind of a family thing."

Taufen said Loso was a great guy who would help anybody.

"He gave back everything he could to the community. He loved to teach the kids fire prevention at the schools. He loved to see people laugh. He'd do his best to cheer you up when you didn't even know he was trying to do that," Taufen said. "He seemed to love life."

According to an obituary, Loso is also survived by his parents, Terry and Linda Loso, brothers Matt and Ben and other relatives. Services were held Nov. 30.