On a Monday morning in November, 1925, the Casper Fire Department raced to the scene of a structure fire, losing a hose nozzle from their truck on the way.
Thinking the fire couldn’t be extinguished without the nozzle, Casper Police Officer George Radden raced the equipment to the scene on his patrol motorcycle and sidecar.
At the intersection of H and McKinley, Officer Radden’s sidecar clipped a vehicle that had just pulled over to let him pass.
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Officer Radden was only ten minutes from the end of his shift when his skull slammed into the pavement.
He never woke up, dying a few days later at Memorial Hospital and leaving behind a pregnant wife and four children.
Nearly 94 years later, Gerald Radden and his wife Wilma stood silently as flags in front of the Casper Police Department were lowered to half-staff for Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, and in honor of Jerry’s grandfather.
Gerald’s father, Stanley, was only 15 at the time of George’s death. He became “the man of the house,” dropping out of school and going to work
“The family had a homestead out by the airport, they sold that and used the money to move out of here in 1925,” said Gerald.
Gerald was born in 1932, and moved back to Casper with his family in 1942.
Gerald didn’t know about his grandfather’s legacy at first.
“My grandmother barely spoke of the situation here,” said Gerald. “They were dealing with such unpleasant events.”
“We developed our understanding of the family from our contacts here in Casper after we came back,” he said. “I’ve met numbers of people who worked in the police department with my grandfather.”
Officer Radden didn’t have a long career as a police officer. He was an electrician and journeyman during Casper’s early boom years, but after that work dried up for a spell he joined the police force in January of 1925.
Gerald says he was never interested in pursuing his grandfather’s career. He became a teacher, working at NCHS, KW and Casper College before retiring in 1992. Wilma worked for the state. They’ve been married 59 years, have three children and now split their time between Casper and Arizona.
George Radden remains Casper Police’s only fatality, although there have been some close calls.
“That’s a rather remarkable thing after all these years, they’ve been so fortunate,” said Gerald.