William Lee Holzhausen, 1904–1951
William Lee Holzhausen was born on 8 October 1904, the eldest of three sons born to Rose Hayden Miller and Edward John Holzhausen. Bill married Anne O’Malley on 8 August 1931 at St. Mark’s Church in St. Louis, Missouri. They initially lived in an apartment in north city and in 1938 built a small home in south city. In August 1942, Anne gave birth to a girl, Margaret Lynne, and in 1946 another girl, Gail Anne. In 1946, Bill was forty-two years old and Anne was thirty-nine years old.
For a time after his father’s death in 1927, Bill worked at the Libby-Williams Paper Company as a wall board and roofing salesman. In 1932, Bill joined Stockman Lumber Company and became the vice-president. Bill, Harry Stockman, and Leo Krell, also owned Louise Real Estate Co.
In March 1949, Bill was appointed by Governor Forrest Smith to the St. Louis Police Board as its president. The appointment came as a surprise to Bill and to the community as he had no political experience. It was known that State Senator Edward J. “Jellyroll” Hogan was working for the removal of Police Chief Jeremiah O’Connell and Inspector Charles Bronstrom, as they were tough on hoodlums and serious about keeping gambling and prostitution operations across the river and away from St. Louis. Jellyroll Hogan also wanted his buddy, Joe Mathews, reinstated to the police force, enabling Hogan to become unofficial boss of the police department. Mathews was linked to Hogan’s Binaggio, gambling chieftain in Kansas. Holzhausen stood in Hogan’s way, blocking the Mathews reinstatement.
Binaggio accepted between $100,000 and $200,000 from gamblers in the 1948 statewide Democratic campaign on the assurance he would see to it that St. Louis would be a “wide-open town.”
Photo in the collection of Judy Broleman
Used with permission
In January 1950, between meetings with gang leaders, Binaggio tried to get some St. Louis politicians to induce Holzhausen to resign from the Police Board. One group of gamblers apparently told Binaggio that they regarded Holzhausen “as a thorn in their side.” Binaggio was told to deliver or return the money. Binaggio and his bodyguard were gunned down on the streets of Kansas City on 5 April 1950, three months after his trip to St. Louis.
In June 1950, William L. Holzhausen was presented the St. Louis Award. The award citation stated:
“For the outstanding manner in which he conducted himself as President of the Police Commissioners at a time when the citizens of St. Louis were greatly disturbed about the management of the Police Department
For his great moral courage and determination displayed in spite of pressure to relax the high standards of his office
For his exemplary record of civic conduct which has stimulated the community.”
On 26 July 1951, William L. Holzhausen had a cerebral hemorrhage at his office at Stockman’s Lumber Company, located at South Third Street. He died seven hours later at Alexian Brothers Hospital. Bill was forty-six years old.
Submitted by Gail A. Holzhausen
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Last Modified: 04-Dec-2020 14:52