Happenstance helped arrange for the placement of a memorial plaque to honor the only Platte City resident to serve as governor of Missouri.
John Dillingham, a local historian, heard of the state’s funding to honor each past governor during an unrelated event. He made the correct contacts and arranged for the placement of the stone for Guy Brasfield Park at his gravesite in the Platte City Cemetery.
While the work was done last spring, the City of Platte City held a graveside ceremony Friday, Nov. 17 to officially dedicate the modest monument.
“After 71 years, we’re here today,” Dillingham said during detailed remarks about Park’s life.
Park served as the 38th Missouri governor during his term from 1933-1937. He received the Democratic nomination for the position in October of 1932, just weeks ahead of the election after the death of candidate Francis Wilson.
Despite limited campaign time, Park defeated Republican opponent Edward Winter by more than 300,000 votes.
Dillingham noted that Park served during the Great Depression, and he’s credited with establishing state relief programs to help address economic hardships. Not eligible to run for reelection, Park returned to Platte City to practice law and died at the age of 74 on Oct. 1, 1946.
More than seven decades after his death, workers placed the plaque at the foot of his gravesite noting his tenure as governor of Missouri. The state previously appropriated funds for the commission and placement of all the plaques for deceased former governors.
Matthew Barry, a field representative for Congressman Sam Graves’ office in Kansas City, presented a flag flown at the Missouri State Capitol building during the ceremony, and a Platte City Middle School honor choir performed the national anthem. More than a dozen citizens were in attendance for the unique presentation.
“This is probably a one-time event in Platte City’s history,” Platte City mayor Frank Offutt said while addressing the crowd, specifically the middle school students. “I hope today’s ceremony has meant something to you. It’s meant something to us.”
Park was born June 10, 1872 in Platte City and later graduated from law school at the University of Missouri in 1896. He served as Platte City’s attorney and Platte County prosecuting attorney before election as Missouri’s fifth judicial circuit court judge, a post he resigned in 1932 to seek the post of governor.
Following his four years as governor, Park continued his political service at the Missouri State Constitutional Conventions of 1943 and 1944. He’s buried alongside wife Eleanora (Gabbert) Park, who died in 1984, and daughter Henrietta, who died in 1997.