99 Years Later, George Radden Still The Only Casper Police Officer To Die In The Line Of Duty

Casper Police Department Motorcycle Officer George Radden died in 1925 responding to a fire and remains the only member of the Casper Police Department to give his life in the line of duty.

DK
Dale Killingbeck

February 12, 20248 min read

George Radden with other members of the Casper Police Department.
George Radden with other members of the Casper Police Department. (Courtesy Radden Family)

CASPER — George Fred Radden is not a name familiar to many around Casper or Wyoming outside of his family. And why should people know him? He died nearly 100 years ago.

But the man in blue who left this world at 40 years old nearly a century ago still has a significant place in the history of the Casper Police Department. He’s the city’s only police officer to die in the line of duty.

The day he died was Nov. 18, 1925, and his name is on memorials to fallen police officers at the police academy in Douglas, Wyoming, and the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Granddaughter Lorraine Ross Hall of New York City said he her grandfather is remembered in the family as a “fun-lovin’ guy” with a “gregarious personality.”

“He was held in high esteem by his associates and his tragic death has caused a pall of gloom over the city that he lived,” an unidentified newspaper article of the time provided by Hall reported. “He was considered a quiet, dependable man and fulfilled his duties to the entire satisfaction of his superior officers. He has taken part in many hazardous undertakings and was always among the first to enter a place where law breaking was suspected.”

A Former Electrician

Police work was not Radden’s first calling.

An obituary written by a family member and posted on Facebook by the Casper Police Department in 2019 shares that Radden had skills as a journeyman electrician who worked in Centerville, South Dakota, South Sioux City, Iowa, Nebraska and then Wyoming.

Hall said family stories share that Radden loved adventure and experiencing new things.

Radden, his wife Caroline and four children arrived in Casper in 1917 or 1918, according to different published accounts. Radden got a homestead claim on property in 1919 that is now part of Casper/Natrona County International Airport. He landed a job helping to build an oil refinery in Casper.

At some point, Radden moved his family into town to be closer to schools for the children.

By January 1925, Radden was out of his refinery job because of a slump in the oil business. So, he took a job as the motorcycle patrol officer on the midnight shift for the Casper Police Department.

News accounts of his short law enforcement career show he was active in the community arresting speeders even in the middle of snowstorm in March 1925 while on motorcycle patrol. On another occasion he was involved with investigating a murder.

Left, George Radden and his wife, Caroline, in 1908. Right, A photo of George Radden in 1925 next to his motorcycle.
Left, George Radden and his wife, Caroline, in 1908. Right, A photo of George Radden in 1925 next to his motorcycle. (Courtesy Radden Family)

The Crash

But on a fateful day 11 months into his job when Radden was almost done with his shift, a call came in about a house fire. The fire department was dispatched and Radden headed over on his motorcycle.

The Casper Daily Tribune from Monday, Nov. 16, 1925, picks up the story under a front-page banner headline: “Casper Officer Near Death After Crash.”

“George F. Radden, motorcycle patrolman of the Casper Police Department, is near death at the Natrona Memorial Hospital from a fracture of the skull suffered this morning when his motorcycle turned over while he was riding to the scene of a fire,” the paper reported. “The accident occurred at H and McKinley streets at 7:50 o’clock.

“The step on the motorcycle side car struck the front wheel of a touring car driven by Will Searles, employee of the New York Oil company … the impact forced the motorcycle over twice, Radden’s head striking the ground.”

Newspaper accounts state Radden had stopped to pick up what he thought was a nozzle dropped by the fire trucks and had sped up to get it quickly to the firefighters. The fire had already been extinguished by the time of his accident.

A doctor at the hospital reported his injuries as a compound fracture of the skull. He never regained consciousness before dying the next day.

The Funerals

Funerals were held in both Casper and Arcadia, Iowa.

“George’s body was sent to his hometown of Arcadia, Iowa, for burial,” Hall said. “After Caroline (George’s wife and Hall’s grandmother) died, the family moved his body from Iowa and reburied him next to her in the Casper city cemetery.”

Hall said the death brought not only emotional hardship, but economic trouble for the family.

“After he was killed, there were five kids and Aunt Lorraine was 7 weeks old,” she said. “They had very little money and they made it back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where my grandmother’s sister and her husband lived.”

Hall said the family’s oldest boy, Stanley, then 16, became the breadwinner for the family.

“He had plans for going to college and everything, but immediately had to go out and get a job, and so did the younger boy, and it was a really, really hard time,” she said. “To top it off, my grandmother and her sister got along about as well as most sisters get along. So, there was this upset all the way down the line.”

The Casper Daily Tribune had a banner headline announcing the crash and impending death of Casper Police Officer George Radden.
The Casper Daily Tribune had a banner headline announcing the crash and impending death of Casper Police Officer George Radden. (Courtesy Radden Family)

The Legacy

The loss and hurt never really stopped being part of family discussions.

“It felt like it was a needless death. He was hurrying to a fire with what he thought was an attachment to a hose and he was afraid the fireman weren’t going to be able to put this fire out if they didn’t have this attachment,” Hall said. “And his hurry probably precipitated the crash that killed him.

“And the family thought that if he hadn’t been so careful and thoughtful about getting there in time he probably wouldn’t have been killed. So, there was that kind of sensation that maybe it was a needless death.”

Radden’s wife Caroline remarried in 1932. She would move back to Casper and die in the city at age 84 in July 1970, after a lengthy illness.

Radden’s five children would go on to prosper.

Stanley, the oldest, supported his mom and siblings while in South Dakota through work as an electrician apprentice, trucker and auto mechanic. He would marry, have four sons, and move back to Casper in 1942 to serve as a mechanic at the Casper Army Air Force Base, then in Wyoming oil fields. He had his own business into the 1990s. He died in 1997.

Warren Radden, 14 when his father died, would become a welder in the U.S. Navy during World War II and go on to a successful career as a welder in the region’s oil fields. He would marry, have four sons, and died in May 1995.

Georgia Radden, 10 at the time of her father’s death, would go on to eventually marry Loren Foreman in South Dakota. They would live in Nebraska and then move back to Casper. They had three sons and two daughters. After her husband died, she moved to Oregon. She died in May 2005.

Nettie Radden, 8 at the time of her father’s death, would eventually marry Lee Ross, and they would have Hall. They lived in Nebraska for most of their lives, where she is now buried. She died at age 103.

Lorraine, the youngest daughter, would also marry. She still lives in the New York City area.

The Legacy

Hall said even though the family lost their father and provider, his traits were evident in his children.

“He was their dad and had quite a gregarious personality. He was always thinking up things for them to do,” she said. “I mean, they kept moving around a few places because he kept finding new adventures and places, and God knows he instilled that in all the kids. Even though some of them didn’t move around they were willing to go an adventure at the drop of a hat.”

In 1992, members of the family attended a ceremony at the Wyoming Police Academy in Douglas to add Radden’s name to a memorial for those who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty.

His name can also be found in Washington, D.C., on panel 30W, line 4 of the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial. It was dedicated by President George H.W. Bush in October 1991.

“They gave much and asked little. They deserve our remembrance,” Bush said at the time. “For as long as these walls stand, they will be remembered not for the way they died, but for how they lived.”

The Casper Police Department in its 2019 Facebook post also honored the fallen officer’s legacy.

“Officer George Radden is remembered for his selfless heroism by those who had the honor of knowing him, and all of whom keep his memory alive. Officer Radden’s acts of courage … are an integral part of the Casper, Wyoming, community and his family legacy remains strong nearly a century later.”

George Radden’s body was initially buried in Arcadia, Iowa. When his wife, Caroline, died in 1970, the family had his body moved to Casper to be next to her. They are buried in Highland Cemetery in Casper.
George Radden’s body was initially buried in Arcadia, Iowa. When his wife, Caroline, died in 1970, the family had his body moved to Casper to be next to her. They are buried in Highland Cemetery in Casper. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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