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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

PAPE, Oran H.

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Ancestry: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83739653/oran-h-pape?_gl=1*6kx74a*_ga*MTU4MDUyNDU2MC4xNjUxMjA3NTgw*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY1ODQ0MDg3NC45MC4xLjE2NTg0NDE5MjIuMA..

Oran "Nanny" Pape
Commemorative bridge over the Cedar River on Interstate 80 south of Cedar Rapids.

PAPE, Oran H. "Nanny." (Waupeton, IA, Mar. 10, 1904---Davenport, IA, Apr. 30, 1936). Trooper, Iowa Highway Safety Patrol. Pape has been the only trooper with the Iowa Highway Patrol murdered in the line of duty.

Pape was a local hero. While a lifeguard at the EAGLE POINT beach, he was credited with saving the lives of over one hundred swimmers. As a student at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, he lettered in basketball, football, and track before enrolling in the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE.

Pape later transferred to the University of Iowa and twice, in 1928 and 1929, saved the Hawkeyes from homecoming losses to the Minnesota Gophers. (1) In 1928 he ran sixty-seven yards for a touchdown that allowed Iowa to win 7-6. The following year in the final two minutes of the game, Pape scored another touchdown against Minnesota that resulted in an Iowa win with the score of 9-7. Ruled ineligible for playing semi-pro football, Pape went on to play professionally in Boston, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Providence, Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, a sports writer commented:

              ....it is worth noting that the Steam Rollers have a
              "find" in Oran Pape of Iowa.  He is one of the finest
              looking backs to show here in a long time.  He is the 
              shiftiest running halfback that the Rollers ever have
              had.  Pape's speed is deceptive. He just lopes along,
              but it is doubtful that many ball carriers can run as
              fast and he has a baffling change of pace which throws
              tacklers off their stride. (2)

He was appointed to the Patrol on August 1, 1935 as one of the first fifty members selected. (3)

On April 29, 1936, Pape was patrolling Highway 61 near Muscatine when he noticed a Chevrolet sedan that had been reported stolen from Bloomfield. As he approached the car, the driver, Roscoe Barton, drew a gun and ordered Pape into the car and started to drive away. Seeing an opportunity to overpower the thief, Pape struggled with the man. During the fight the thief was shot in the head and died later at Mercy Hospital in Davenport. Pape was driven to the same hospital for the removal of a .45 caliber bullet that had entered his abdomen. (4)

Pape's condition worsened after midnight; doctors found that his collapsed veins prevented sufficient blood transfusion. Doctors never had an opportunity to attempt a second transfusion. Trooper Pape died at 2:40 p.m. and was buried in LINWOOD CEMETERY. His badge, No. 40, was retired from service.

Pape's death was carried on the front page of the TELEGRAPH HERALD. Accounts of the size of the funeral procession stated it was "probably one of the longest in the history of the city." Nearly one hundred cars followed the hearse with fifteen minutes passing between the time the first car arrived at Linwood until the time the last car was admitted. Among those in attendance was Mrs. Alex Miller, Iowa Secretary of State and thirty members of the eastern half of the Iowa Highway Patrol, and a delegation from the University of Iowa athletic department including the head football coach. (5)

His murder has been credited with the patrol's practice of "cross-drawing guns." Patrol officers wear their guns opposite their strong arm. The theory of the practice is that an officer can then grab an individual with his/her strong arm and still be able to draw the weapon.

On July 26, 2012 the Department of Public Safety Building in Des Moines was renamed the Oran Pape State Office Building. (6) In 2013 the Interstate 80 bridge over the Cedar River was renamed the Trooper Oran Pape Memorial Bridge. (7)

Gravestone in Linwood Cemetery




1. Hogstrom, Erik. "85 Years Ago, Dubuque's 'Nanny' Pape Ended Grid Career," Telegraph Herald, January 4, 2018, p. 3A

2. "Oran 'Nanny' Pape is Well Thought of at Providence," Telegraph Herald, September 11, 1931

3. "DPS Building to be Renamed in Honor of the First Patrolman Killed in the Line of Duty," Iowa Department of Public Safety. Online: http://www.dps.state.ia.us/commis/pib/Releases/2012/07-24-2012_PapeBldngDedication.htm

4. "Patrolman Oran H. Pape," Officer Down Memorial Page, Online:http://www.odmp.org/officer/10343-patrolman-oran-h-pape

5. "Hundreds at Services for 'Nanny' Pape," Telegraph-Herald, May 3, 1936, p. 1

6. "DPS Building..."

7. Carlson, Mark. "Local Bridge Honors Only Iowa State Trooper Murdered On Duty," Online:http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/Local-Bridge-Honors-Only-Iowa-State-Trooper-Murdered-On-Duty--165658556.html