A veteran State Highway Patrolman has set out to make sure the 25 troopers who have died in the line of duty are more than pictures on a wall. Lieutenant Jim Ripley of Lee’s Summit started researching each of the troopers in 2002 when there were 21 pictures on the wall at the Missouri State Highway Patrol headquarters in Jefferson City. Four have died since then. He says each trooper’s death created more than one victim. Take the first one, Benjamin Booth, killed in central Missouri 72 years ago. It was devastating to his family. Ripley points out the Patrol didn’t have pensions or insurance programs for the family. Donations helped get them by. Ripley was able to find Booth’s daughter, now living in Illinois, in her late 70s. He was struck by the fact that she always referred to Booth as “Daddy”. She explained that she was seven when Booth died and routinely called him Daddy, the affectionate term she will always use when referring to her father. The sheriff of Boone County, Roger Wilson, was killed with Booth that day. Their widows died one day apart, 50 years later. Ripley says things are better for survivors today, because of insurance and a special organization that provides support to the trooper’s survivors. But he says nothing can fill the hole in a family caused by a trooper’s death. He wants to be able to teach others about the human beings behind those pictures on the walls.
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