Historical Summary of Employee Memorial

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A few years ago, a former State employee from Kearney approached the District 4 Rewards and Recognition Panel with the suggestion that a memorial be established at the rest areas to honor State employees who had lost their lives while working for the Department of Roads. The employee pointed out there was a plague honoring these employees at the District office and at the Central Headquarters, but felt there should be something placed where it would be more visible, with hopes of making the traveling public think about how dangerous some of these jobs are and realize that employees have lost their lives while performing their duties. The suggestion was well received by the statewide panel and when presented to Director John Craig, received approval to proceed.

Since that time, a special committee was selected and gathered information about funding, appropriate type of memorial, location, etc. They shared this information with District Engineers, Maintenance Superintendents and others, whose responses were positive. The committee decided that one memorial should be placed in each district. Districts that included Interstate 80 would place their memorial at a rest area because of the high traffic volume. Districts that did not include I-80 would select a location heavily traveleMemorial Design - no actiond with high visibility.

After much discussion, the committee decided upon
a design that would best meet the following objectives
of the memorial: (1) memorialize 55 employees; (2) highlight the need for safety on our highways; and (3) visually communicate to the public the dedicated service of State Roads employees and the dangers that can occur if people are not vigilant at all times.

Barb Kohles, Landscape Architect in Roadway Design, drew several design ideas for the memorial. Jan Havranek, Graphic Designer in Communication Division, drew up the selection, and Karl Fredrickson, Contracts Manager in Construction Division, began the sculpting process. Karl sculpted the original from clay and had a company from Montana cast eight plaques using the lost wax method, which involved many intricate steps to bring out the detail. The plaques were then attached to hand-selected boulders and prepared for placement in each of the districts.

The first Employee Memorial Dedication was held on Monday, August 27, 2001 at the "Blue River" Rest Area located on I-80 west of Lincoln. The unveiling of the Memorial Boulder and remarks from Governor Mike Johanns, Director John Craig, and Gary Voss were all a part of the first memorial dedication.

In addition to the State dedication ceremony near Lincoln, a dedication ceremony will be held in each of the other sevEmployees Memorial Ceremony - no actionen districts, commemorating those employees whose lives were lost in the line of duty across the state.

The employees memorial became a reality because of the commitment and dedication of many employees within the department. Working together as a team, employees created a lasting tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by their fellow Department of Roads employees, and as a reminder of the need for vigilance and care on our highways.

Nebraska Department of Roads
Employees Fatally Injured on the Job Since 1943

1943 Elmer Welch D-8 1964 S. Christoffersen D-3, Norfolk
1946 John Young D-8, O’Neill 1965 Tom Philips D-3, Albion
1946 Dewey Durflinger D-4 1966 W. Low D-3, Norfolk
1947 Richard Versaw D-1, Lincoln 1966 A. Gragert D-3, Neligh
1949 Rosco Hendrix D-5, Kimball 1967 Wayne Reimers D-4, Cairo
1949 Unknown D-6 1969 Franklin Kolar Mat. & Research
1949 Unknown D-1 1969 Arthur Anderson D-1, Lincoln
1950 William Kinder D-2 1970 Edwin McAndrew D-1, Lincoln
1950 Unknown Construction 1970 Richard Sterling D-3, Neligh
1951 Phillip Bilsing D-7, McCook 1970 Van Warner D-3, Neligh
1952 James Shuman D-6 1972 Arland Tridle D-2, Elkhorn
1953 George Applegate D-3 1972 Cleith Sines D-7, Imperial
1953 John Teare D-5, Kimball 1973 Orville Colvin D-3, Bloomfield
1954 Cliff Buchlin D-2 1973 William Heiden D-4, York
1954 Robert Gulbranson D-2, Seward 1974 Leslie Nelson D-3, Norfolk
1954 Louis Meysenburg D-1 1976 Robert Lemmer D-6, Lexington
1955 Julius Haase D-2 1980 George Reiman, Jr. D-4, Hastings
1955 Ray Busch D-2 1980 Darrell Sheets D-6, Lexington
1958 Leu Gilbert D-5, Bridgeport 1982 David Sullivan D-1, Lincoln
1959 Richard Clemens D-3, Neligh 1983 Vannessa Vajgrt D-1, Lincoln
1960 Joe Slama D-1, Wilber 1983 Raphael Nekuda D-2, Omaha
1961 William Cook D-3, Center 1984 James Cook Maintenance
1962 Don Howell Roadway Design 1988 Justine Cunningham D-2, Elkhorn
1962 Davy Craig Roadway Design 1989 Jerry Waugh D-4, Aurora
1962 Otto Hagemoser D-2, Seward 1992 Ronald Kramer D-3, Lyons
1962 Ernest Philben D-8, Springview 1999 James Soto D-6, North Platte
1962 Lester Sines D-7, McCook 1999 Patrick Boyer D-1, Nebraska City
1963 Gile Stoll D-5, Chadron