Trees stand as memorial to several UMKC family members
In 1868, separate ceremonies were established in the north and the south to honor soldiers who fought in the Civil War — those who died in combat and those who survived. The observances became known as Decoration Day. In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day and included U. S. veterans from all previous wars.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May. Memorial Day not only honors Americans from the armed services, but it also is a day where families pay tribute to their loved ones who have died.
In the spirit of remembrance at UMKC, trees have been planted and plaques inscribed to honor some of the individuals — students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members — who were a part of the University. The memorials are placed around campus, enriching the landscape as the honorees enriched the lives of those with whom they came in contact.
Following are just a few of those who have left their unique mark on UMKC.
James Edgar and Bettilou Allen
Dr. James Edgar and Bettilou Allen met while attending school at the University of Kansas City in the 1940s. Dr. Allen, who was a Bounder Alumni, received Bachelor of Arts degrees in geography and geology from UKC (UMKC) in 1947. In 1990, he retired as President of Amoco — Singapore. Mrs. Allen died in 1997, and Dr. Allen died in 2002.
Today, the “James E. Allen Memorial Engineering Scholarship” goes to a full-time undergraduate SCE engineering student whose major is petroleum engineering or civil/mechanical engineering as applied to environmental or energy management issues related to petroleum or a petroleum based economy.
Nathan Buie, Jr.
Nathan was an all-conference athlete on the UMKC track team and a communication studies major. Buie ran both cross country and track and field for the Kangaroos during his career in Blue and Gold. The Kansas City, Mo., native earned a gold medal as a member of the conference-winning 4×00-meter relay took home a third medal — a bronze — for his performance in the 400-meter dash.
“Nathan was a really great kid and a good student,” said UMKC track and field head coach Theo Hamilton. “He was one of the better athletes on the team and he is going to be missed, not only for his athletic ability, but also for his personality. He was the type of kid that was able to keep his teammates’ attitudes positive.”
Amanda Harman was a UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance student in choral music. The 19-year-old, who was from Salisbury, Mo., a small town 40 miles northwest of Columbia, worked with Kansas City elementary students and planned to be a music teacher. She was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and performed with UMKC Conservatory of Music’s Women’s Chorale.
When she began her course work at the Conservatory, she wrote about her goals for a classroom assignment. She said that she hoped “to become a better singer, a better person, and a team player.”
The dream of Chen Pei and her parents was for her to study in America, and she came to the Conservatory of Music in 2002. Pei spent most of her time at UMKC in Grant Hall practicing her piano performance. She was considered a talented performer with a great future as a musician.
In 2003, the Conservatory planted a pink dogwood tree in front of the Performing Arts Center in her memory, which included a plaque with the inscription:”In memory of Chen Pei; 1982-2003; Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance.”
East of the School of Law’s Truman Terrace, a tree and plaque stand in remembrance of Ryan Tarpley. Ryan passed away in early 1998 before achieving his lifelong dream of graduating from law school, but the tree grows as a testament to his perseverance in the face of obstacles, friendly presence and commitment to justice.
He never gave up hope or asked for sympathy. He had a joke nearly every day to share with anyone who needed a laugh.
“Ryan’s motto was ‘To have a friend, be a friend’ and he was indeed a friend to his colleagues,” said Barbara Glesner Fines, associate dean for Faculty Development and Ruby M. Hulen Professor of Law.