In 1996, after Dick Hobson was killed, the FOP Auxiliary called a meeting to form the Tulsa Police Officers Memorial committee. There were approximately 20 people in attendance. The number of people continued to dwindle in subsequent meetings.
Mark Wollmershauser took the lead and a Trust Document was drafted by an attorney. The original trustees signed the document and the Tulsa Police Officers Memorial Fund trust became a reality. The original trustees were Mark Wollmershauser, Kimberly Smedley, Lisa Ford, Maureen Goree, and Doug Cash. In addition to the trustees, there were a few members of the committee who were not trustees.
We held elections and Mark Wollmershauser was elected Chairman; Lisa Ford Co-Chairman; and Maureen Goree Secretary.
In 1997, Mark Wollmershauser and Doug Cash attended the national FOP conference in Orland Florida. We met at meal times and discussed the Memorial. We sketched a rough plan of what we thought the memorial could look like on a napkin. The napkin was presented to the committee and was approved.
We selected Charles Ward as our architect and we presented the napkin to him. He drew a set of plans and the committee approved this design of the project. Charles then did an artist rendering of the Memorial.
Mark Wollmershauser approached me and asked me to take his position as Chairman because he wanted to concentrate more on the construction aspect of the project. The committee approved and I became Chairman and Mark became Treasurer. I remained in that position until August, 2001.
We contacted Officer Robert Knutson who is a CPA. He completed and filed our application and we became a 501©3 Charitable Organization.
The committee, after much discussion, decided to build the Memorial on a vacant piece of property in front of the police academy. We approached the Mayor with this idea and after working with the City Legal Department the property was deeded to us to use as long as the police academy remains at its current location.
We then called a press conference at the police academy and released our artist rendering and asked for donations from the public. We received none. We then began going to any event that would let us attend and ask for donations. We even attended a gun show once and asked for donations.
Mark and I met with former Mayor Robert LaFortune seeking advice how we might approach charitable foundations. He was very helpful and continued to give us advice throughout the project.
Oral Roberts University loaned us one of their personnel who was in charge of obtaining donations for the University. His name is Steve Thomas. He taught us how to approach foundations and get our foot in the door so to speak. He even attended some meeting at foundations with us. His help was monumental and we probably would not be in the position we are today without his help. He was called away to do another project for the University but we continued to use this valuable education to open doors at foundations.
We joined the Tulsa Community Foundation. Their purpose is to help smaller charitable organizations combine their funds to better their investments. Our endowment funds will be with them.
In addition to seeking donations, we began locating the officer's gravesites. This was no easy task. The grave sites were located in 3 different states: Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. They were all eventually located after a yearlong search.
We then went about trying to locate relatives for the fallen officers. This was an enormous task, but after several years, we finally contacted at least one relative for each officer.
In May, 1997 we had our first Memorial Service. It took place at the Tulsa Police Academy inside the gymnasium and a reception followed in the meeting rooms. It was well attended by family members, but not many officers attended. Although it is getting better, this continues to be a disappointment to us all.
We continued the business of seeking donations and having memorial services at the academy. We all attended the National Memorial Service in Washington D.C. in 199?
In September 2001, I was selected to go on a United Nations mission in Kosovo to train new police officers. I resigned as Chairman as was given a leave of absence. I returned in January 2004 and have served as a trustee since that time.
And as they say, "the rest is history."