Carol Louise Stoerker

F, #593, b. 26 October 1951, d. 6 May 1961
2nd cousin of Sheila Sue Altenbernd
Father*Lewis Waldo Stoerker1 b. 8 April 1921, d. 20 July 1992
Mother*Dorothy Louise Gabler b. 7 November 1925, d. 27 November 2021
     Carol was born on 26 October 1951.2 She was the daughter of Lewis Waldo Stoerker and Dorothy Louise Gabler.1 Dorothy Louise Gabler and Lewis Waldo Stoerker resided Columbia, Missouri, USA, in 1959.3
     Carol died on 6 May 1961 at age 9. She was killed in a hit and run automobile accident..2,4,1,3
     Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Missouri

Although privately owned, the area was semi-public for more than a century. The rock bridge, with its natural wonders and cool air, became a gathering place for the country folk in the surrounding vicinity. Plays, political rallies, dances and family gatherings attracted people to the area. In 1961, tragedy struck a Columbia family resulting in a community movement to preserve the area permanently for public use. Nine-year-old Carol Stoerker, daughter of a University of Missouri professor, was struck by a car and killed. In her memory, her father wanted to establish a park where children could run and play in safety. In 1967, the area was established as a state park. in 1967 at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Missouri, USA.5

     How Rock Bridge Memorial State Park Came into Being

In 1961 The Stoerker family of Columbia, Missouri suffered the loss of their daughter Carol in a tragic car accident. As a memorial to his daughter Lew Stoerker, then a Professor of Speech and Dramatic Art at the University of Missouri –Columbia, began a mission to get park facilities established for the youth of the area to enjoy. It was a daunting task, which required the efforts of the entire Columbia community with Lew leading the way.

Lew originally envisioned the park as Carolew Memorial Park, but the name was eventually changed to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, providing a broader and more historical appeal to the effort. Eventually he had a firm option to purchase more than 1,300 acres south of Columbia. The area included the now famous Rock Bridge and Devil's Icebox as well as other areas of interest that the State Park Board had also been considering for development as a park.

As a result of an agreement between the State Park Board and a newly formed local Park Board, whose original members included among others Dr. Jim Denninghoff and Mrs. Hilda Petri, the Columbia community would need to raise $175,000 to fulfill the requirements for purchase and secure state management and maintenance of the envisioned park. Lew Stoerker was instrumental in mobilizing fundraising efforts.

The first donation received was $10.00 made by brother and sister Barbara and David Aufranc. They had been childhood friends of Carol Stoerker, and raised their funds by selling homemade pot holders and brownies door to door.

In 1965 Lew Stoerker recalled the donation of $10,000.00 by Dr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Middlebush, "Without them, we never could have got off the ground." The ball was finally rolling and in eighteen months a total of over $85,000.00 was raised for the park effort. The efforts paid off, as the necessary funds were eventually raised through community wide efforts, in particular led by members of the staff of the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 1967, the area was established as a state park.

Today, visitors can explore the natural wonders of the 2,273-acre park along more than 15 miles of hiking and bicycling trails.6

Memorial at Rock Bridge Memorial Park
Last Edited=30 March 2022


  1. [S802] Courtney Stoerker (#939), "Family History Update," e-mail message to Sheila Altenbernd (#172), May 19, 2009. Hereinafter cited as "E-Mail".
  2. [S132] Wilbert Stewart Greb unknown date.
  3. [S1630] Dorothy Stoerker-Peters (#185) Dorothy "Dottie" Louise Stoerker-Peters, Columbia Tribune, Columbia, Missouri, December 6, 2021, on December 6, 2021 (Document Source Number: 00185-2021-12-06-01) . Hereinafter cited as Columbia Tribune.
  4. [S75] Marion Adolph Stoerker unknown date.
  5. [S1104], online, viewed on May 15, 2010, viewed by Sheila Altenbernd (#172) . Hereinafter cited as Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
  6. [S1106] Stoerker, Carol - Park, online, viewed on July 26, 2006, viewed by Sheila Altenbernd (#172) . Hereinafter cited as Stoerker, Carol - Park.