Honoring a Life Lost: Annual Biendl Memorial Run/Walk
January 8, 2020
A copy of Jayme Biendl’s funeral order of service sits inside a display case at the Department of Corrections’ Headquarters building in Tumwater. (Rachel Friederich, DOC Communications)
MONROE – Nine years ago, the death of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl left an agency and a community stunned.
And every year since, the Department of Corrections, partnering law enforcement agencies and the greater Monroe community have come together to celebrate the life of their fallen comrade in the form of a memorial walk/run.
More than 400 people attend the fundraiser each year, with proceeds from registration going to the Behind the Badge Foundation. The foundation offers support to family members and to agencies of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
In 2011, an inmate killed Biendl in the chapel inside the Monroe Correctional Complex.
The event is a way to pay tribute to Biendl and serves as a reminder of the dangers all law enforcement officers face on the job.
“Out of this tragedy, we have built this strong group of people dedicated to honoring Jayme and ensuring she is never forgotten,” said facility spokeswoman Susan Biller in a 2017 interview. “I am extremely grateful I can assist and coordinate this every year.”
The 2020 event takes place Sunday, January 26, from 10-11 a.m. at Sky River Park. Online registration is $30 and includes a t-shirt and numbered bib. There will be an on-site registration table open the morning of the event. However, t-shirt availability is not guaranteed.
The route takes participants from the park to the grounds outside the facility’s Washington State Reformatory. The route goes down Main Street and ends back at the park. Corrections and City of Monroe’s departments of Parks and Recreation and Police co-sponsor the event.
Benjamin Marshall is the only other Monroe Correctional Complex employee to die in the line of duty since the prison opened in 1910. Two inmates fatally wounded Marshall during a nighttime escape attempt—also at the Reformatory—in 1951. In 2018, facility officials named the previously unnamed road leading up to the reformatory “Plant Engineer Benjamin Marshall-Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl Memorial Lane.”
January 29 marks the anniversary of Biendl’s death. She is memorialized in many places within the department and around the state.
Several facilities have memorial plaques bearing Biendl’s name. At the Department of Corrections’ Headquarters in Tumwater, she is memorialized in an artist sketch, along with sketches of other correctional staff who have died in the line of duty. Besides the road bearing her name at the Washington State Reformatory, Monroe Correctional Complex has a display case with a white rose and her death anniversary date, known in the law enforcement community as the “end of watch date.” The facility also has a Walk of Remembrance garden, which has a stone with Biendl’s name. The garden is also the location of a wreath laying ceremony, held each year on the anniversary of her death.
Her name is inscribed on the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia—along with the names of 327 other officers. The Behind the Badge Foundation maintains the memorial. Her name is also one of 21,000 that are commemorated on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.
At the American Legion Cemetery in Granite Falls, there’s a shiny headstone with a cross with her name and an image of her badge.
And she lives on in the hearts and memories of everyone who knew her.
Correctional Officer and Monroe Correctional Complex Honor Guard Member Roland Pascua has participated in many remembrance ceremonies honoring Biendl in the years since her death. Pascua worked with Biendl and described her as someone who had a beautiful smile, friendly demeanor and true dedication to her work. He’s gotten to know some of Biendl’s family members who attend the ceremonies. In a 2017 interview, Pascua said offering comfort to family members of fallen officers like Biendl is one of the best ways he can honor their memory.
“It was very hard for all of us to see what happened and go through what we went through,” Pascua said. “But when family members come up to you after a ceremony to say ‘Thank you. Thanks for doing this,’ it makes you feel so humble and loved. It makes up for almost everything else you go through.”