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Harold Roe Bartle: Wikis


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Awards and Honors
Silver Buffalo Award
National Distinguished Service Award (APO)

Harold Roe Bennett Sturdevant Bartle (June 25, 1901 – May 9, 1974) was a lawyer, banker, cattleman, politician, college president and renowned public speaker. He served two terms as the mayor of Kansas City. He was a local Scout executive of several councils of the Boy Scouts of America, where he was nicknamed "The Chief" while working with American Indians in Wyoming. He helped lure the Dallas Texans American Football League team to Kansas City in 1962; owner Lamar Hunt liked Bartle's nickname so much that he renamed the franchise the Kansas City Chiefs.


Early life

Bartle was born in Virginia on June 25, 1901 to Samuel Dunn Bartle, a Presbyterian minister and immigrant from the UK, and Ada Mae Roe of Illinois. His father moved regularly and Bartle moved around the country as a youth. He was an only child. By 13 he was playing the organ and piano in church. He enlisted in the United States Army when he was thirteen years old but his father pulled him out with proof of his age. At age 15 he refused to be called Harold and from then on was called Roe.

He attended Fork Union Military Academy from 1916 to 1920, graduating with honors. He attended the University of Chattanooga. He moved with his family to Lebanon, Kentucky where through the Hamilton College of Law, a mail order school, he earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1921.

He met his future wife, Margaret Ann Caroline Jarvis, in Lebanon. They were married on September 26, 1923 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Scouting career

Bartle was very involved in Scouting for the vast majority of his life. He began his professional Scouting career at age 21 as Scout executive for the newly formed Cheyenne Council. The council covered the entire state of Wyoming, and was based out of Casper, Wyoming.

In Casper, his only child, Margaret Roe "Jimmy" was born on November 27, 1924. He was inducted into the Northern Arapaho tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation as a blood brother, was given the chief's own name, "Lone Bear" and learned about the customs of the American Indians.

He was promoted to Scout executive of the Pony Express Council in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1925 and remained until late December, 1928 when he moved to Kansas City. While he was the Scout executive in St. Joseph, he appointed a Roman Catholic man as a Scout commissioner. Subsequently, a Ku Klux Klan mob came calling one night and demanded that he get rid of the man. His answer to them was "If any three or four of you want to step forward, I'll show you who is running Scouting in St. Joseph." The mob left and the commissioner stayed.

In 1928, Bartle became the Scout executive for the Kansas City Area Council in Kansas City, Missouri, and served in that role for 27 years until his retirement in 1955. In later years he donated his salary back to the council each year to be used to further the cause of Scouting.

He created the Tribe of Mic-O-Say honor society in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1925, the seeds of the program dating back to 1922 when he was in Wyoming. He created a second Tribe in Kansas City in 1929 after he transferred there. After he moved to St. Joseph, the tribe in Wyoming left with him and then created one in Kansas City; these two chapters of Mic-O-Say have continued as strong active groups. The Boy Scout camp at Osceola, Missouri is named the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in his honor.

Reputation as a public speaker

Bartle overcame an early shyness and became a professional public speaker with a dynamic, powerful voice and eloquent language. There were a number of times where he actually blew out the public address system he happened to be using. He said "God had wired me for sound" so he spoke without one.


Bartle was Kansas City's mayor, having served two terms starting in 1955. It was "Chief" Bartle who negotiated with Lamar Hunt to bring his American Football League team to Kansas City from Dallas in 1963; Hunt renamed the team "The Chiefs" in honor of Bartle. Bartle had a fireman's hat, coat and boots and went to all two alarm fires while he was mayor to support the firemen and assist the victims. Every morning he had a radio broadcast at 8am to give a daily report on the city. Although on the ticket, he did not wish to serve a third term, and asked voters not to vote for him. Some did anyway but he got his wish and was not reelected.

American Humanics

Bartle is considered the founder of American Humanics, having worked for ten years on developing the program. For nearly thirty years the Chief led the Kansas City Area Council, now the Heart of America Council, of the Boy Scouts of America. As the Scout executive, he was responsible for hiring qualified staff members. He had no trouble finding good people, but most knew nothing about running an organization. With the help of longtime civic leader Jerry Cohen and others, Chief Bartle founded the American Humanics Foundation in Kansas City in 1948. His idea was to teach college undergraduates how to run the business side of nonprofit organizations. Courses would be conducted on campus and experienced agency executives would present classroom lectures and workshops. Students would volunteer in community agencies and learn from on-the-job experience. Upon graduation, they would have the management skills to run nonprofit agencies.

Most college campuses were not interested in adding American Humanics courses to their curricula. American Humanics started at Missouri Valley College and grew within a small number of colleges. T The program may be the least known part of the legacy of H. Roe Bartle yet may be the most far-reaching, with hundreds of alumni serving various nonprofit organizations across the land. He considered it his greatest contribution to America during his lifetime. Chief Bartle had originally started it to help the Boy Scouts but it carried over to benefit many organizations. At a major American Humanics dinner in 1964, twelve speakers described the profound influences Mr. Bartle had on youth serving organizations across America. They say it was the only time that H. Roe Bartle was speechless. American Humanics, Inc. celebrated it's 60th anniversary in 2008. Chief Bartle reportedly used a good amount of his public speaking income to keep it going in the early years.

Alpha Phi Omega

Chief Bartle was elected the National President (then called Supreme Grand Master) of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity in 1931 and remained in that position until 1946. Alpha Phi Omega had eighteen chapters when he took office and 109 chapters when he stepped down. He is largely credited with the growth of the organization. He followed the founder of the group, Frank Reed Horton, as the group's leader and was continuously reelected until he finally chose to step down. The Pledge Manual of the organization has a full page on him to this day and he is still referred to as "The Chief". At least one retired professional Scouter who knew him said that it was Chief Bartle who personally financed APO when it was a young organization.

Alpha Phi Omega would recognize Bartle with:

  • Fall Pledge Class Namesake, 1946 & 1962 (only person to be recognized twice)
  • National Distinguished Service Award, 1958
  • Naming the H. Roe Bartle Chapter Award in his honor


H. Roe Bartle served many organizations and had many honors and awards bestowed upon him. He received honors and distinguished service medals from Great Britain, Ecuador, Belgium, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Guatemala and Mexico. When Harry Truman asked him to serve as a regional public official in 1951, Chief Bartle reportedly had to resign from 57 boards he was a member of in order to comply with the non-conflict of interest requirement of the job. He was a trustee for hospitals, foundations and helped found such organizations as the Kansas City Boys Club. He served on boards for religious and osteopathic colleges, corporations, banks, trade commissions and more. Many say that Chief Bartle was a towering example of what an American citizen should be. He deeply cared about his community, his fellow man and lived a life of extraordinary service to others; especially children. He had instilled in his Scouts for years that when your family, church, community or country called upon you that you fulfilled the call. A group of former Scouts visited him one day to say the city needed honest leadership and asked him to run for mayor. He made no political deals on the way there. His only campaign promise was "I will take my honor, integrity and ability to City Hall and nothing else." When he was elected he retired from his career in Scouting. Bartle had a profound influence on thousands of people and his beloved Kansas City.


Bartle died on May 9, 1974. His funeral was attended by FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley as well as Chief Scout Executive Alden G. Barber and others who left a national meeting in Hawaii to be there. The church overflowed with people from all walks of life, all faiths and all color, who came to honor a man who had befriended many. His pallbearers were six firemen and six police officers, public servants, as was he. As the funeral procession moved along the streets to the cemetery, the citizens who were passed along the way stopped and saluted; men removed their hats and many crossed themselves. From the gates of Forest Hill Cemetery to the gravesite there were literally thousands of saluting Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Scouters lined up on both sides to say farewell.


Quotes by H. Roe Bartle:

  • "What America needs is more lovers of children and fewer lovers of things."
  • "There are three Bartles: The Bartle who makes money, the Bartle who gives it away, and the Bartle who works for free."
  • "I condemn representatives who represent no one but themselves."

Quotes about H. Roe Bartle:

  • "This was a man who created an attitude in people to go out and do the very best you could. He stood for all the right things in his day." - (A retired professional scouter who knew him)


  • Taylor, Jimmy Bartle (June 1995). Down Home with the Chief and Miss Maggie. Leathers Publishing. ISBN 0-9646898-0-4.  
  • David Eby, Lone Bear: H. Roe Bartle.

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
William E. Kemp
Mayors of Kansas City, Missouri
Succeeded by
Ilus W. Davis


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