The Columbia College Criminal Justice Student Association held a short memorial on Bass Commons to honor Molly Bowden '02 in late spring. An Autumn Blaze maple tree that will be glorious come fall has been planted in her honor with a plaque honoring a "friend, public servant and fallen hero."
Bowden was the first Columbia, Mo., police officer killed in the line of duty. Her 2005 shooting by a troubled young man who next morning shot another officer, then took his own life, rocked the community.
About 50 people including about 10 policemen and firefighters attended, as did Bowden's parents, David and Beverly Thomas.
Dr. Joseph Carrier, associate professor of criminal justice administration at Columbia College, and the association provided the impetus to plant the maple tree and create the plaque. Both were funded by association bake sales and other fundraisers.
The ceremony started with Chris Waldron '09, a criminal justice administration major, eulogizing Bowden as a "dedicated, caring person and officer" who loved attending Columbia College. The tree, he said, was a way to add beauty to the campus, to honor a fallen hero and "to keep alive the memory of Molly."
Michael Burt, Bowden's former pastor at Grace Bible Church, then led the group in prayer. He quoted Psalms 1:
"A life well lived is like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Burt ended with the fervent prayer that there will no more such memorials anywhere.
Amy Bishop, an officer with the Columbia Police Department since 1999 attending the ceremony, said she could sum Molly up with one phrase: "A lot of fun. Her smile was just amazing. The way she dealt with people — she could identify with anyone." Bishop and Bowden were partners on patrol in an area that included the Trinity low-income housing, "but Molly made it a lot of fun. We never a problem with residents."
Not forgottenCarrier has ensured that the college and female criminal justice students of tomorrow will not forget Bowden, either. Carrier said he, with the vigorous support of President Brouder and Bowden's family, got a memorial scholarship up and running in one year.
"Molly enjoyed attending Columbia College because it provided the personal atmosphere in which she always thrived," said Molly's father, David Thomas. "This scholarship is one way to give something back to the community that has been so supportive to us, and at the same time keep Molly's memory alive."
Once fully funded, the Molly S. Thomas Bowden Memorial Scholarship will provide full tuition to a female student majoring in criminal justice administration or forensic science with a 3.0 GPA who attends the Day or Evening Campus in Columbia.
"Many people were looking for a way to honor Molly once they knew the family was being taken care of through the Officer Down Fund and other resources," said Carrier. "I am pleased the family has chosen this scholarship as her legacy. It is something that will live on in perpetuity."