A building on the state capitol grounds in Des Moines was renamed today in honor of the state’s first state trooper to be killed in the line of duty.
A plaque was unveiled inside the entryway of the structure, which is now known as the Oran Pape State Office Building. Iowa State Patrol Colonel Patrick Hoye says Pape became one of the 50 original members of the newly formed Iowa Highway Patrol in 1935.
The 32-year-old Pape was killed just eight months later in Muscatine County when he was forced at gunpoint into the car of 23-year-old Roscoe Barton, who was suspected in a string of burglaries.
“With the renaming of the public safety building today, we pay tribute to Oran and all the other officers who lost their lives serving a greater cause,” Hoye said. Pape was shot by Barton as he attempted to wrestle away the gun.
After he was wounded, Pape was able to shoot and kill Barton. Pape died two days later. Oran “Nanny” Pape grew up in Dubuque, where he was said to have rescued over 100 swimmers while serving as a lifeguard at Eagle Point Beach.
Later, Pape became a star running back for the Iowa Hawkeyes and helped the Green Bay Packers win an NFL Championship in 1930. Pape’s great-great nephews were on hand for today’s building dedication.
Oran Pape of Dyersville shares the name of the highway patrolman who’s life was cut short in 1936. “Dad always mentioned him to me all the time and that’s why I got my name. I heard all the stuff about him being a lifeguard, a football player and how he was killed,” Oran said.
Jerry Pape said he was informed about the building’s name change one week ago and decided to make the trip from Dyersville to Des Moines for the unveiling. “It really touches me deep down, that he gave his life to save other lives,” Jerry said. “To be distantly related to him is a pretty great deal.”
Oran Pape was buried at Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque. His highway patrol badge number 40 was retired from service. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, 166 Iowa law officers have died in the line of duty over the state’s history.