TIME Aging

Life Lessons From One of the World’s Oldest Men

Charlie White
Charlie White, photographed in 2008 at age 103. Doug Dalgleish

Charlie White, who died at 109, was able to separate the things he could control from the things that he could not

One sunny Sunday morning seven years ago, shortly after we moved into our new home in suburban Kansas City, I noticed that my neighbor across the street was busy in his driveway. Wearing only a pair of shorts, his barrel chest rippling, he was using a sponge and a garden hose to wash his girlfriend’s purple PT Cruiser. Did I feel a twinge of envy at all that this scene implied—the Saturday night romance; the love-interest perhaps dozing languorously inside as her man basked and flexed? No comment. With a glance at my own battered minivan, with its sticky cup holders and booster seats smelling faintly of baby puke, I went inside.

What made the scene especially memorable was that my neighbor was 102.

When you meet a man who is 102, you don’t expect to know him very long. Yet my friendship with Dr. Charles White—Charlie—wound up lasting seven years. Charlie died on Aug. 17, about an hour after he turned 109. That was long enough for him to leave a powerful mark on me.

Talking to Charlie was like falling into a history book. He was born in 1905, during the first months of the William Howard Taft administration. Buffalo Bill Cody and Chief Geronimo were still alive; John F. Kennedy and Laurence Olivier were not yet born. The Wright Brothers had made their first flight not 20 months earlier. Henry Ford had not yet started to mass-produce cars. Among the names the world did not yet know: Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Louis Armstrong, Shirley Temple, Peter Pan.

As I mentioned, he was quite a physical specimen. In our first conversation, he bemoaned the fact that he had recently been compelled to give up golf, at 101. (It was several years before he surrendered his plans to resume the sport.) Even more amazing, though, was Charlie’s brain. He salted his conversations with details plucked effortlessly from yesterday’s newspaper and events of a century ago.

I asked him once if he could recall the old Newman Theater, where young Walt Disney premiered his first Laugh-O-Gram animations in 1921 before moving to Hollywood. Charlie answered with a vivid tour of every movie house in the city circa 1921—not just the Newman, but the place around the corner where his sister played the organ to accompany silent reels, and another place a few blocks from that, and the vacant lot where films were screened on hot summer nights before air conditioning. Then he painted a word-picture of Electric Park out south of town, at the end of the streetcar line. That was the place where Disney watched in awe as the nightly tableaux of human actors rose from fountains on hydraulic lifts each evening. With its manicured landscaping, nightly fireworks, and miniature train puffing around the perimeter, the amusement park of Charlie’s youth fed the imagination that would eventually create Disneyland.

The first doctor in Kansas City to specialize in anesthesiology, Charlie could discourse at length on the invention of modern medicine. He could tell you what it was like to be a general practitioner making house calls in the Depression, removing tonsils with picture wire. It was a hard life, making ends meet on late payments and barter—no health insurance back then. When science advanced beyond ether and brandy for surgery patients, he leapt at the chance to learn anesthesia at the Mayo Clinic. That was 1944. He later learned that his specialty had side benefits; Charlie confided to me that he rendered his kids unconscious for long drives across Kansas on their way to vacations in Colorado.

Charlie had a lot of laughs over the decades. He loved to tell about the time that he and his boyhood friend—later the controversial journalist Edgar Snow, friend of Mao—set off cross-country on dirt roads in a rattletrap 1919 automobile. When the car and their money gave out in California, the lads picked fruit to buy food and hopped freight trains to get home. He worked his way through medical school blowing the saxophone in a dance band. He heard a promising young Kansas City jazzman named Charlie Parker in a local club.

Another local guy, Harry S. Truman, once sent Charlie to South America to assist in a surgery on the president of Peru. Diplomatic immunity suited Charlie. He smuggled a pet monkey on the return trip, which lived in his home for years.

But his was a real life, which means that it wasn’t all laughs. Charlie knew grief from boyhood. His father, a minister of the Disciples of Christ, was killed in a freak elevator accident when Charlie was only eight. His mother took in boarders to pay the bills; some of them were doctors—that’s how Charlie found his future. Later, his first marriage was a trial of mental illness that ended in his wife’s suicide. As the decades passed, Charlie outlived his friends, his associates, even one of his children.

What this rich life taught him was a kind of inner peace, an equanimity reflecting the robust wisdom known as Stoicism. Charlie was able to separate the things he could control from the things that he could not, and he didn’t fret about matters beyond his power. One of his daughters told us once that she was complaining about an insufferable certain someone we all knew when her father told her to stop. You can’t change people like that, Charlie schooled her. If I let such people irritate me, I would have been dead a long time ago.

He taught me something even more useful in the last months of his life. By then, his superhuman body was finally wearing out. Charlie was nearly blind and mostly deaf, though his mind never faded. More and more of his charming and straightforward conversation has to do with his readiness for death. He wasn’t depressed about the oncoming end. Even less was he angry or fearful. He didn’t pine for days past nor pick scabs of regret and resentment.

Instead, it was as if Charlie had reached the end of a long day at the amusement park. The moments of delight and surprise, along with the moments of pain and fear, along with the moments of exhaustion and exhilaration, along with the moments of wonder and love—all culminated in the hazy afterglow of the closing fireworks and the dimming lights.

It was time to leave.

Charlie White lived the dream of countless men and women in my generation, the insufferable Baby Boomers. Hale and hearty well past 100, forever handsome with his rakish moustache and abundant hair, Charlie was prosperous, comfortable, ageless. And that dream led him to a graceful acceptance that … it ends.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all in favor of long and healthy lives. But there is something unseemly in the modern notion that science should aim to cure us of death. Charlie came closer than anyone else I’ve known to that vision of endless life. Close enough to decide that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. He saved me a good deal of fretting. Thanks, Charlie.

When I heard that he was gone, I thought of Emily Dickinson, for some reason: “Because I could not stop for Death—He kindly stopped for me.” I smiled to know that Charlie was glad to see him.

TIME justice

Ferguson Probe Will Take Time

Demonstrators march down West Florissant during a peaceful march in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown, near Ferguson, Missouri
Demonstrators march down West Florissant during a peaceful march in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown, near Ferguson, Missouri Aug. 18, 2014. Lucas Jackson—Reuters

“The modern 24-hour news cycle hampers law enforcement’s ability to conduct a successful investigation”

Despite the chaos on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., and in-fighting among local authorities over crowd control, the investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, by police officer Darren Wilson is going smoothly, the U.S. Attorney on the case tells TIME.

FBI agents have successfully canvassed the area around the shooting scene for witnesses and are sharing what they’ve learned with St. Louis County investigators, said Richard G. Callahan, U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. An autopsy by a top U.S. military forensic examiner was completed on Monday and “physical evidence is being analyzed.”

There are no plans, however, to make details of the investigation public before the information is presented to a St. Louis County grand jury—a process that will take weeks or months. Callahan acknowledged the tension between the needs of investigators and the demands of the media and protesters.

“The modern 24-hour news cycle hampers law enforcement’s ability to conduct a successful investigation,” he said, because hasty or partial releases of information can taint the testimony of witnesses.

“While the lack of details surrounding the shooting may frustrate the media and breed suspicion among those already distrustful of the system, those closely guarded details give law enforcement the best yardsticks for measuring whether witnesses are truthful,” Callahan said. “Without those yardsticks, an investigation becomes more of a guessing game or popularity contest than a search for the truth.”

The U.S. Attorney’s comments to TIME came on the eve of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s scheduled visit to Missouri. Holder is expected to try to reassure the public that Brown’s death is getting a full and fair investigation. So far, the public has been treated to dueling accounts and partial disclosures, leading President Obama on Monday to warn of the dangers of drawing conclusions. “I have to be very careful about prejudging before the investigation is completed,” Obama said.

And how might that information become public? Sources tell TIME that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch will likely present the information to the grand jury, which will decide whether to indict Wilson. If the officer is cleared of wrongdoing, results of the investigation will become public record under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. If Wilson is charged with a crime, it’s possible that aspects of the case will remain secret until his trial.

On a parallel track, Justice Department officials are determining whether to press charges under federal civil rights laws.

TIME Crime

The Long, Tangled Roots of the Michael Brown Shooting

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on August 12, 2014. Scott Olson—Getty Images

As police stay silent, anger fills the information vacuum

Officials in St. Louis County and the tense town of Ferguson, Mo., remain mum nearly three days after an unidentified police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death. But a young man who says he was with the victim at the time of the shooting has described a virtually unprovoked attack in which the officer fired repeatedly — even after the victim raised his hands and begged him to stop shooting.

In an interview with MSNBC, Dorion Johnson, 22, said his friend Michael Brown, 18, was walking in the street when the officer ordered him to the sidewalk. When Brown did not immediately comply, the officer put him in a chokehold. The young man struggled to free himself, and the officer pulled his gun and fired.

Wounded, Brown tried to flee but was shot a second time in the back. That’s when he turned with his hands raised, Johnson said. “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting!” he said, but additional shots were fired.

Johnson’s version of events entered an information vacuum created by the silence of city, county, state and federal officials. Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said Monday that information concerning Brown’s death would be released by noon on Tuesday. But as the deadline approached, a department spokesman announced a change of plans. The officer involved will not be named, nor will authorities commit to a timeline for releasing autopsy results and other details of the investigation.

Citing threats lodged on social media, Ferguson police spokesman officer Timothy Zoll said, “we are protecting the officer’s safety by not releasing the name.”

The St. Louis County police were also mum. Their investigation into the shooting continues, said officer Brian Schellman, “but it is not for us to release the officer’s name. It is a personnel matter. It is up to the Ferguson police.”

At a press conference on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump, a civil-rights lawyer representing Brown’s family, said they are considering suing the Ferguson police for the release of the officer’s name. Citing community distrust of local law enforcement, Crump called for the Justice Department to take over the investigation.

This investigation has been more complicated than most, as police have been pressed into a struggle to maintain peace in a restless and angry community. On Sunday night, peaceful protests erupted into a chaotic scene of arson and looting. Since then, parts of Ferguson — an incorporated working-class suburb of some 21,000 residents roughly 12 miles north of St. Louis — have been patrolled by scores of armored police officers with tear gas at the ready.

“This isn’t what Ferguson is about,” said one resident, Shante Duncan, 33. “This is a good community. There are lots of people on the ground doing good work, but you never hear about any of it.”

Generations of racially mixed families have lived in Ferguson, some dating back more than a century, with ancestors among the slaves who were sold at auction houses on the Mississippi riverfront. Today, its residents comprise roughly two-thirds African Americans and one-third Caucasians. Race relations, often harmonious among neighbors, are frequently tense between black residents and the mostly Caucasian city officials.

“Ferguson is notorious for being prejudiced against blacks,” said George Chapman, a 50-year-old African American who has lived in the town most of his life but said he recently moved because he was “tired of the police.”

“The police stop us all the time,” Chapman said. “The police show us no respect. They treat us like we’re nothing.”

A racial-profiling report from the Missouri attorney general’s office showed that, last year, African Americans in Ferguson were significantly more likely to be involved in police traffic stops and arrests.

Michael Brown’s parents said during a press conference on Monday that their son had overcome the racial hardships facing many young African-American males. “He was a good boy,” said his father Mike Brown Sr., determined to make something of himself and scheduled to start schooling for a career in heating and cooling.

“He was starting on a new journey,” said Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden. “He was maturing.”

Brown’s family deplored the looted businesses in Ferguson, the violence, the vandalism that resulted in boarded-up businesses and scrawled graffiti inciting violence against police. “Why would you burn your community?” asked Brown’s grandfather, Leslie McSpadden. “Why? This should not be his legacy.”

Why, indeed. St. Louis is not the first place most Americans would name when asked to think of a city primed to blow. But friction is the result of two surfaces rubbing together, and St. Louis has always been a city where surfaces meet. It may be the ultimate border town. Its signature arch, marking the Gateway to the West, is meant to remind us that St. Louis is the place where the East ended and the West began. Likewise, its equipoise near the midpoint of the Mississippi marked St. Louis as a fault line between North and South.

The racial history of St. Louis is burdened by a hyperconsciousness of borders and boundaries. Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa brilliantly demonstrates this in his book (and related website), Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City. Few cities, as Gordon shows, have taken a more systematic approach to racial separation and division.

It started with … well, how far back do we want to go? The infamous Dred Scott case of 1857 — that spark in the powder keg of the Civil War — began in St. Louis as a question of whether a man’s human rights evaporated when he crossed the border into a slave state. In the decades since that terrible war, St. Louis has tried a number of tactics to keep the races apart.

In 1916, the city passed a zoning law that explicitly restricted black homeowners to certain neighborhoods. The following year, in a case out of Louisville, Ky., the Supreme Court struck down racial zoning laws. So St. Louis realtors responded with a series of restrictive covenants designed to separate the races. White homeowners were forbidden to sell their houses to black customers, and real estate agents could lose their licenses if they participated in a forbidden transaction.

Eventually the covenant strategy failed as well. In 1946, the Supreme Court struck down those arrangements in a case that came from St. Louis.

Now the metropolis turned to redlining, the practice of steering black buyers into certain neighborhoods by discriminating on their mortgage applications. Through it all, white homeowners accelerated the division by moving away from downtown and into predominantly white suburbs — the same “white flight” that remade American cities from coast to coast after World War II.

You can see it all in Gordon’s maps, drawn meticulously from government records and Census data. Or you can read it more poetically in the charming prose of the late St. Louis writer Stanley Elkin. In his 1980 love song to St. Louis, first published in Esquire, he noted the peculiar boundaries of his chosen home:

“St. Louis … is a city of sealed neighborhoods, gated as a railroad crossing, of blocked-off streets and private places, chartered as a nation, zoned as meteorological maps, the enclaves and cul-de-sac of stalled weather.”

The shooting of Michael Brown, and the violence that followed, happened smack on one of those borders. Ferguson is an inner-ring suburb that is neither black nor white. Its southern border abuts a storied country club where Ben Hogan won the 1948 PGA Championship. Other parts of the little city-inside-a-city produce an overall unemployment rate of nearly 20%.

Established in 1894, Ferguson encompasses rough-around-the-edges manufactured homes and turn-of-the-century Victorian manors within its 6 sq. mi. It is a mixture of suburban and blue collar, home to “King of Kash” payday loan shops as well as boutique home-decor stores. One of Missouri’s largest corporations, Emerson Electric, has its headquarters there.

St. Louis rapper Tef Poe, writing in the Riverfront Times, caught the jagged feeling of the border city last year in his description of a neighborhood not far from Ferguson: “Rich people, middle-income, lower-income and dirt-poor people living blocks apart from each other in what is basically the same neighborhood.”

As the tension in Ferguson and nearby communities stretched into its fourth day, protesters seemed torn by the friction of a city built on such fine lines. “We’re not stupid! We’re not stupid!” a group of peaceful protesters chanted in the direction of a line of 130 county police in riot gear. Chanel Ruffin, 25, a Ferguson resident, said that “Ferguson police show us no respect. They harass black people all the time.” She said she knew Michael Brown, and “he was a nice guy. He was going to start college and make something of himself. He didn’t deserve to be shot so many times.”

Like others in the crowd, Ruffin did not try to explain the riot — much less to justify it. “I’m not saying what they did was right,” she said.

Things happen along these fault lines that cannot be entirely explained.

They can only be felt. “People were acting out of emotions,” Ruffin ventured. “There are a lot of people hurting.”

— With reporting by Kristina Sauerwein / Ferguson, Mo.

TIME Courts

How John Roberts’ Supreme Court Is Slowly Bridging the Political Divide

John G Roberts Jr
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has overseen a shift in the way the Supreme Court approaches cases. Stephan Savoia—AP

Partisans are crowing about Monday's divided Supreme Court decision, but ideological division appears to be on decline in the nation's highest court

Nine years into his service as Chief Justice, John Roberts may finally have shaped the nation’s highest tribunal into a “Roberts Court.” The term that ended on Monday was a reflection of goals that Roberts set during his 2005 confirmation hearings—more unanimous opinions, for example, and a more modest idea of the Supreme Court’s role in society.

Despite two 5-to-4 splits on the final day of term, in cases involving union dues and the Affordable Care Act, the Roberts Court delivered unanimous opinions in more than 60 percent of the cases decided this year, the highest percentage in decades. That doesn’t happen by accident. As the eminent Constitutional authority Lawrence Tribe of Harvard Law School has noted, a number of these 9-to-0 opinions contain significant disputes just beneath the surface. The Roberts Court is placing high value, in a time of polarized government, on finding common ground in spite of real philosophical differences.

And there was something distinctive about those 5-to-4 calls on the final day, as well. Faced with sharp splits that could not be papered over, Roberts assigned the same associate justice to write both of the opinions: Samuel Alito.

Alito is a fascinating judge—that is, if modesty and predictability happen to fascinate you. Arguably the purest conservative on the Court, Alito disdains the sort of flashy, rhetorical disagreement perfected by Antonin Scalia and former Justice John Paul Stevens, the dueling dissenters of the earlier Rehnquist Court. His Monday rulings reflected both his conservatism and his judicial modesty. In a case challenging the power of public employee unions to impose fees on non-members, Alito’s opinion went against the union. But he stopped well short of the sweeping blow that anti-union politicians and pundits were hoping for.

Likewise, in a case asking whether the owners of private corporations can be forced to provide contraception methods that offend their religious beliefs, Alito anchored a majority in favor of the owners. But his opinion was hedged throughout. Questions of how the ruling might apply to publicly traded corporations, or whether it might apply to other religious convictions, were left for another day.

In 2005, Roberts famously compared this narrow approach to a baseball umpire calling balls and strikes. The umpire is not making a blanket ruling covering every conceivable pitch. The idea is to frame a strike zone and apply it consistently on a pitch-by-pitch basis. The fact that Alito wrote both of the last-day opinions suggests that he’s the justice that Roberts wants behind the plate on the close calls. This matters because the Chief Justice has so few powers, and one of the most important is that when the Chief is part of the majority, he gets to choose the writer.

By such small increments, change comes to the Supreme Court. It is, by its nature, a slow-moving institution. And the Chief Justice is the least powerful of the leaders of the branches of American government—just one of nine voices, all with an equal say in which cases the Court will hear and how they will be decided. But step by step, opinion by opinion, Roberts is stamping his image on the institution. The term that ended on Monday put us clearly into the Roberts Court era.

TIME

The War That Changed The World

On the centenary of 
 World War I, a selection of rare photos brings color to a catastrophe that ruined a generation and completely upended the old world order

One hundred years ago this summer, sparked by the June 28 assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Europe plunged blindly into a global war that would leave nearly 10 million soldiers dead, twice that number wounded, countless civilians slaughtered or ruined, economies wrecked, empires toppled and the disastrous seeds of communism and fascism sown in ground, fertilized by blood and anguish. “All gods dead,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it in the war’s wake, “all faiths in man shaken.”

The manmade disaster that was first called the Great War wrenched Europe out of the past and thrust it into a dystopian future. This is when the genocides began, and bombs first fell from the skies, when old orders discredited themselves with nothing better to take their places. The good were left exhausted by the carnage—which gave evil a head start in the next round of that eternal competition.

Despite the scale of the conflict’s death toll and its historical weight, World War I occupies a surprisingly small space in the Western memory, perhaps because it had no silver lining—no slaves were freed, no death camps liberated by brave American GIs. The story is told (when it’s told at all) through herky-jerky black-and-white movies of men in silly helmets moving like Claymation dolls, and goggled pilots in flimsy biplanes, and soldiers wearing gas masks like snouts.

These experimental color photographs, on the other hand, narrow the distance between us and that wasteland. They reach across the century to remind us that those millions dead were once as real and warm as we. Theirs was not an alien, colorless landscape. It was our world—and could be again, should we forget the lessons of World War I.

TIME Military

Iraq Vet Killed In Gunfight With Police Was Turned Away by VA Hospital

Army Specialist Isaac Sims is seen here in a holiday greeting he sent from Ramadi, Iraq in 2009. 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs/US Army

Agency, amid overcrowding scandal, says case of Kansas City soldier suffering from PTSD symptoms is under investigation

Correction appended, May 28, 2014

The bloodstained floor of his father’s garage is a long way from the Iraq streets where Isaac Sims served two tours of duty in the U.S. Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division, but it was there that the violence finally caught up with him.

Tortured by symptoms of PTSD, turned away by an overbooked hospital run by the Department of Veterans Affairs—his mother says she pleaded with doctors to let him sleep on the hospital floor—Sims was shot by Kansas City police on Sunday after they answered a neighbor’s 911 call. Police say Sims was firing a gun from inside his parents’ home and was killed when he moved to the garage and leveled the weapon at the SWAT team.

Family members don’t believe that the 23-year-old veteran was a threat to police. “With his sniper training, if he was shooting at them he would’ve hit them,” his sister Shawnda Anderson told TIME. But everyone could agree that the root cause of the confrontation was that Staff Sergeant Sims was falling to pieces, and felt like he had nowhere to turn.

“He was in so much turmoil from seeing so many dead bodies in Iraq,” said Anderson. Patricia Sims, mother of the dead soldier, put it this way: “The last six months have been such a nightmare for him. The V.A. kept saying, ‘we’ll get to you later.’ ”

Officials at the V.A. hospital in Kansas City referred questions about the case to Washington, where a department spokesperson said that the “matter is currently under investigation.” Citing federal privacy laws, the agency declined to discuss any specifics of Sims’s case.

Still, the reality of V.A. overcrowding has been commanding headlines and driving Congressional hearings for weeks, driven by revelations that some hospitals have falsified records to mask long wait times. As the daughter of a Korean War veteran, wife of a Vietnam vet, and mother of a veteran of the Iraq War, Patricia Sims knows a lot about the V.A. system, and she said Tuesday that the Kansas City hospital is “great compared to a lot of places” in the system. “But they’re slow; they’re overbooked; they put him off and they put him off and now he’s dead.”

She spoke as friends and family members moved dazedly around the scene of the young man’s death in eastern Kansas City. The family car was on blocks—disabled by police during the stand off, she said. Meanwhile, a funeral home was refusing to collect the body on behalf of the family without payment up front. Shawnda Anderson said that her parents weren’t even sure they wanted to pay a funeral home: to bury their son would only confirm that he is truly gone.

According to family, Sims lived an itinerate childhood, traveling the country from one trailer park to the next as his father pursued work as an electrician. A gentle, peacemaking sort of boy, he never grew tall (his sister puts him at 5-foot-3, but according to a Facebook post, he preferred to say 5-foot-5). But he was wiry and dogged, and at 17 enlisted in the Army for what he intended to be a career.

(In 2009, Sims recorded a holiday greeting from Iraq. Watch below)

Instead, after six years and two combat tours, he mustered out, suffering from unspecified disabilities. Unmoored, he began abusing drugs—huffing aerosols primarily—and behaving erratically, his mother said. According to one source who had been briefed on his medical history, Sims suffered “nightmares, flashbacks—just massive Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” with symptoms easily triggered, yet seemingly impossible for him to discuss.

In April, after pleading guilty to two counts of domestic violence, Sims came under the supervision of Municipal Court Presiding Judge Ardie Bland. Widely admired for his work with troubled veterans, Bland placed Sims on probation through a program jointly run by the court and the V.A. Launched in 2009, the Veterans’ Treatment Court tries to restore veterans to “law abiding, productive lives within the country they have defended,” according to municipal court spokesperson Benita Jones. The probation was to include intensive treatment, random drug testing, and frequent reviews.

Sims was distraught over the conviction, which crushed his hopes of starting a new career as a police officer, his mother said. Increasingly alarmed by her son’s deterioration, she offered to send him with a blanket to the V.A.’s in-patient mental health facility, reckoning that a soldier doesn’t need a bed to sleep in. Instead, the intensive treatment envisioned by the special court failed to materialize in time.

“We are saddened by such a tragic loss,” Judge Bland said in a statement. “Our hearts must now go out to the family of Mr. Sims with our prayers and support. We will continue our efforts in the Veterans’ Treatment Court, in his honor and in honor of the others that have served this country.”

A memorial fund has been established in Sims’ name at the United Credit Union.

According to police: A neighbor reported shots fired from the Sims home shortly after noon on Sunday. The SWAT team fanned out, surrounding the house, and the inhabitants of the 2300 block of Lawndale Avenue were evacuated to safety. Hostage negotiators quickly researched the soldier’s story in hopes of coaxing him out. But “things went rapidly downhill,” in the words of one witness, and in a spatter of gunfire Isaac Sims went down, dead on the battlefield that had consumed his life.

And there was one more fallen soldier to mourn on Memorial Day.

-with reporting by Karen Ball/Kansas City

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Department of Veterans Affairs

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