Courthouse gets new memorial
"In memory of those who have made the supreme sacrifice, we honor and remember you."
This simple inscription on the newly dedicated Fallen Officer's Memorial will be a permanent reminder for future generations of the sacrifice made by Leavenworth County law enforcement officers.
The Northeast Kansas/ Leavenworth County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 47 unveiled the granite memorial Saturday morning in front of the Leavenworth County Justice Center.
The audience included current law enforcement officers and family members of two Leavenworth County deputy sheriffs who lost their lives in the line of duty and whom the memorial honors: Deputy Robert Lee Freeman and Deputy Elmer "Okie" Parmer. The names of Freeman and Parmer are etched on the memorial, along with the date of their deaths.
The audience was quiet during the brief ceremony while listening to lodge secretary Shane Duncan, Sheriff David Zoellner, Yaslyn Howey of the Concerns of Police Survivors group, and David Parmer, son of Deputy Elmer Parmer, speak.
"We are here to honor fellow brothers we have lost in the line of duty," Duncan said as she began the ceremony.
"When our deputies left us, not only did they leave behind a career but also family and friends who supported them through the late nights, long shifts and undying dedication to serve the people."
"These men were not only officers but heroes in the eyes of many," Duncan said at the conclusion of her comments.
The men are heroes in the eyes of many, particularly their family members, who gathered to pay tribute to their sacrifice.
"It was an honor for him and an honor for his family," Susie Parmer, Okie Parmer's widow, said of the memorial.
Okie Parmer was killed on Aug. 28, 1960, when he was electrocuted while working a traffic accident. Susie Parmer was seven months pregnant at the time with their daughter, Dina; their son, David, was 2 1/2 years old.
Of her husband, Susie Parmer said, "He died doing what he loved."
David Parmer said he was pleased that the name "Okie" was included on the memorial, because that was the way his father was always known at the Sheriff's Department. Okie Parmer had picked up the nickname because he was from Oklahoma, his son said.
Duncan used the officers' obituaries to help contact family members about the memorial dedication, but she was unable to contact the stepchildren of Freeman, who died on Aug. 26, 1944, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, eight months after being shot in the line of duty.
Freeman's stepchildren, Jeanie Brenneman and Gary Lange, found out about the ceremony on Friday night, through a story in The Mirror.
Brenneman was 9 years old when Freeman, who married her mother Violet Lange, died. Brenneman called the memorial "an honorable recognition of honorable men" and said her stepfather would have appreciated it.
Brenneman and Susie Parmer, who both live in Tonganoxie, agreed the memorial was an honor to their fallen family members, but noted it also would serve as recognition of the daily sacrifice of present-day law enforcement officers.