KCPD Memorial   Lest We Forget

The Police Memorial
Kansas City Police Memorial
(Link: Listing of Fallen Officers)

The "Police Monument", located in front of Police Headquarters at 1125 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri, is comprised of a bronze statue, measuring 8'4" and weighing 11 tons, situated atop a 7 ton Missouri red granite base, measuring 10'8". This sculpture is the second memorial dedicated as a tribute to the police officers of Kansas City, who gave their lives in the discharge of their duties.

The bronze statue was started in the summer of 1920, with work done by local artist Robert Merrell Gage. A total of five models were used to create the unique characteristics of the bronze sculpture; two were for the policemen, William E. Bondurant (born in 1881) and Ira Boyle (1888-1942), and three for the small child, Marjorie Bondurant, Margaret Boyle, and Donald Patterson. In 1919 Officer William Bondurant was walking his downtown beat when he was approached by banker William Thornton Kemper. Mr. Kemper explained to him that he was tired of the old police monument and wanted his help in obtaining donations to create a new one. Several days later Mr. Kemper again met with Officer Bondurant and asked him also to be a model. Another officer, Ira Boyle, was also asked to aid in providing characteristics for the statue. Bondurant's 3-year-old daughter Marjorie modeled for the face of the child, and Ira Boyle's daughter Margaret and Donald Patterson acted as an aid for the creation of the child's body. The memorial was completed a year later in 1921 and placed at 15th and The Paseo.

In April of 1949 the memorial was moved from it's location on Paseo, cleaned, and mounted on red granite. At that time, 65 names were honored on the base. Twenty-three were added and the monument was rededicated in September of that year and moved to 59th and Paseo. It was not until February 16, 1973 the the monument was moved to its current location in front of Police Headquarters and bears the names of all of Kansas City officers who have given their lives in the line of duty engraved in the granite base of the monument.

Police Memorial Committee: William Kemper - Chairman, banker; John R. Ransom, former Police Commissioner; E.C.B. Jenkins, former Secretary - Police Board; D.M. Pinkerton, banker and School Board President; Reverend Charles R. Nisbet; James Cowgill, Kansas City Mayor; and Robert Merrell Gage, sculptor.

Robert Merrell Gage (December 26, 1892 – October 30, 1981) Often referred to as Merrell Gage - was born in Topeka, Kansas and studied in the Topeka public schools and at Washburn University. He worked on ranches in the Midwest before settling on an art career. He studied art in New York and France and worked in the studio of Gutzon Borglum (sculptor for Mount Rushmore) from 1914-1916. and again in 1921-23 when he assisted in the designs for the Stone Mountain Georgia project. Gutzon referred to Gage as "that steady eyed sculptor." In 1916, he set up a sculpture studio in a barn behind his house in Topeka. His first public commission was for a statue of Abraham Lincoln that is now on the grounds of the Kansas State Capitol.

He married Marian Gage, a painter, shortly after World War I when he was in the medical corps and lived in Kansas City. He began teaching sculpture at Washburn and at the Kansas City Art Institute. They moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1924 and built a studio in their home in the Santa Monica Canyon. He was appointed professor of sculpture at the University of Southern California and rose to the head of the department. Gage's mother and sister lived in La Jolla, San Diego, California.

Gage also executed likenesses of Lincoln in many stages of the president's life. In 1955 Gage starred in a short film The Face of Lincoln, in which he modeled Lincoln's features while narrating the story of his life. The film, produced by Wilber T. Blume, won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short FIlm. Gage also executed numerous commissions in the Los Angeles area and served on the sculpture commission for the 1936 Olympics.

Gage died on October 30, leaving behind a vast collection of work. He has been referred to as "the American Sculptor."

The original Police Memorial - The first Kansas City Police Memorial was inspired by the death of Sergeant Francis McNamara in 1902 and is displayed in a space adjacent to the current police memorial in front of Police Headquarters at 1125 Locust.

Article by Brent Marchant