Casey’s donates $50K for scholarships to honor slain officers


by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor

ANKENY, Iowa — Casey’s General Stores Inc. announced Tuesday it would donate $50,000 to establish two scholarship funds at Simpson College to honor two Des Moines-area police officers who were shot and killed earlier this month.

Des Moines police Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Beminio and Urbandale police Officer Justin Martin graduated from Simpson’s criminal justice program in 2001 and 2015, respectively. Both were killed on Nov. 2 in ambush-style attacks while sitting in their squad cars.

“We believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Terry Handley, president and chief executive officer of the Ankeny-based company, who is also a member of the Simpson College board of trustees and a 2009 graduate of the college’s continuing and graduate programs.

Casey’s employees wanted to know how the company could help, Handley said, and the leadership team decided the scholarships would prove appropriate as a “lasting memory” of the fallen officers.

“This is such a thoughtful, generous act during a time of great sadness,” said Jay Simmons, president of Simpson College. “I can think of no better way to honor the lives of these two exemplary officers than to use the scholarship fund to help others in their pursuit of a great education.”

The endowed scholarships will exist at Simpson College in perpetuity, honoring the legacies of the officers, said Bob Lane, vice president for college advancement. Only a portion of the earnings will be distributed each year for student scholarships.

“I think it’s awesome, a very kind gesture that shows their support to the community in a time like this,” said senior Dylan Gray, who is majoring in criminal justice and sociology. “This tribute can steer more young men and women toward an honorable career that they want to pursue. It’s also a great way to honor and always remember these two Simpson graduates, one of them that I really looked up to when I got into the program as a freshman.”

The scholarships will be awarded according to the guidelines established for each scholarship, which have yet to be determined.

“We see this happening in other places across the country,” Handley said. “We hope it doesn’t happen here. You want to do something.”

Handley recently worked on a task force at Simpson that included Fred Jones, the longtime professor of sociology and criminal justice who is set to retire at the end of the academic year.

“I got to know what kind of person Fred is and what those students and that program mean to him,” Handley said. “My heart went out to him.”

The scholarships will be available next fall.