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New headstone placed at Jamestown grave of trooper killed in 1954

Trooper Beryl McLane died when he was killed by a drunk driver.

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The North Dakota Highway Patrol Honor Guard stands at attention on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, during a special ceremony for Beryl McLane, a trooper who died while on duty in 1954.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – The only trooper for the North Dakota Highway Patrol killed in the line of duty was honored Monday, Aug. 1, at a ceremony for a new headstone that was placed at his grave in Highland Home Cemetery in Jamestown.

Trooper Beryl McLane, 58, died on July 30, 1954, near LaMoure, North Dakota, when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by a drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the road at a high rate of speed, the patrol said.

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Trooper Beryl McLane
Contributed / Ken and Linda Attleson

McLane had served the patrol for 13 years and left behind a wife, two children and two grandchildren.

“This is the first time that I’ve been here (at the cemetery),” said Col. Brandon Solberg, superintendent of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, speaking at the ceremony. “It’s got a lot of meaning to me, to this agency, to all that it represents. Trooper McLane was killed in the line of duty. A drunk driver crossed over the center line and hit him head-on and took his life. And this is just what state troopers — this is the danger they face every day is incidents like that, so we don’t ever want to forget the ultimate sacrifice that Trooper McLane made for our agency, for our citizens, for the protection of our state.”

Two years ago, Lt. Daniel Haugen and Sgt. Tim Coughlin of the Highway Patrol came to Jamestown and walked Highland Home Cemetery looking for McLane’s grave, eventually finding it. Trooper Steve Mayer, president of the North Dakota Trooper’s Association, said the headstone was small, more like a marker.

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Haugen and Mayer discussed the headstone and the Trooper’s Association’s board of directors approved looking into doing something to get a new one. Mayer said an anonymous donor later offered to pay half of the cost.

The new headstone was placed a few months ago and a ceremony held Monday near the anniversary of McLane’s death 68 years ago.

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A colorful wreath rests above the new headstones of Bernice and Beryl McLane on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, during a special North Dakota State Patrol ceremony at Highland Home Cemetery north of Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

“I just think it’s important that we remember and recognize the ultimate sacrifice that he gave for the citizens of North Dakota,” Mayer said. “He is the only trooper that has died in the line of duty. Hopefully, we keep it that way.”

The new headstone is for McLane and his wife, Bernice, who died in 1993. In the center is the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s logo, McLane’s years of service and his badge number, 218.

“To me, it’s really nice, a great honor,” said Ken Attleson of West Fargo, McLane’s grandson and only immediate surviving family member. Attleson gave his approval to the new headstone project in October 2021 when he was contacted by Mayer.

“It’s really special that they did this,” he said. “It means quite a lot.”

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Ken Attleson
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Attleson was 3 years old when his grandfather died and remembers going to visit him at his home in Napoleon. He said McLane was born in Illinois and lived for a time in Mitchell, South Dakota. He served in World War I but did not see duty overseas. He moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he served as a police officer before becoming chief of police in Ellendale, North Dakota, for about five years. McLane moved to Jamestown in 1941 to work for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and had transferred to Napoleon where he was living at the time of his death, Attleson said.

“It shouldn’t have happened but it did,” Attleson said. He said it was important that McLane wasn’t forgotten.

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Trooper Tom Herzig of Jamestown holds a wreath to be placed at the new headstone of Beryl and Bernice McLane during a special ceremony on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, at Highland Home Cemetery. Beryl McLane was a trooper for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and was killed while on duty in 1954.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Monday’s ceremony included the North Dakota Highway Patrol Honor Guard and the placement of a wreath of flowers at the graves.

“May it be a reminder of the sacrifice that he made in service to serve and protect the citizens of North Dakota,” said The Rev. Lester Wolfgram, senior chaplain for the patrol in Bismarck. “Jesus declared there is no greater love than that one lay down his life for his friend. Trooper Beryl laid down his life while serving others. We remain grateful for his service and honor his memory with this tribute and tombstone.”

Solberg said the patrol doesn’t want to give up on trying to remove impaired drivers from the state’s highways and eliminate fatality crashes.

“And we want to also double down on our efforts to protect our officers in hopes that this never happens again, that none of our officers ever have to give up their life in the line of duty and we also want to recognize and just honor that history,” Solberg said. “We don’t ever want to forget, we always want to remember the sacrifice that Trooper McLane made on behalf of all us.”

For more information on fallen law enforcement officers in the United States, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page at odmp.org .

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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