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Patrolman John Gulden

John Henry Gulden was born on April 29, 1899, in Belt, Montana, to Charles J. Gulden and Alice K. Stegeman.  Gulden and his three siblings grew up in Montana until the family moved to a farm in Pleasant Valley, east of Goldendale, in 1914.


Gulden married Ruth M. Derby on April 24, 1924, in Lansing, Michigan.  The couple returned to the family farm one year later and had two sons: Lawrence Charles born in 1925, and Robert Henry born in 1927.  Lawrence tragically passed away at the age of three in 1928, and Robert passed away in 1989.


Gulden joined the Washington State Highway Patrol in 1929, taking his oath of office on April 3rd at the age of 29.  He graduated in 1930, as a member of the third Washington State Highway Patrol Class as one of only five classmates. 


Patrolman Gulden was initially sent to Spokane, and also worked in Seattle, before transferring to Goldendale. 


Patrolman John Gulden died on December 23, 1942, at the age of 43.  Patrolman Gulden was shot during a traffic stop of a vehicle he pulled over for driving without headlights on the Maryhill Loops Road, six miles south of Goldendale.  He was unaware the vehicle had two teenage suspects inside wanted for robbery and car theft.  At the time of his death, Patrolman Gulden had served 13 years with the Washington State Patrol.


Patrolman Gulden was survived by his wife and son Robert, who was 13 at the time of his father's death.  Patrolman Gulden has a stepson who lives in the Portland, Oregon area.  We have been unable to make contact with him.  If you have any information on members of Patrolman Gulden's family, please contact Megan King at (360) 597-4411, or


The story of Patrolman Gulden's death was featured in Detective Magazine and part of the 1945 radio show "Gang Busters."


The Goldendale Detachment established a POPS project to research Patrolman Gulden's life, history, family, death, and service.  On April 5, 2010, troopers from the Goldendale Detachment held a ceremony to recognize and honor the life and history of Patrolman Gulden.  Thanks to their efforts, we now know who Patrolman Gulden was and can better honor and remember him for his service and ultimate sacrifice.  A memorial honoring Patrolman Gulden was erected in 2010 at the Goldendale Detachment Office.  It is inscribed with a poem written in the community newspaper shortly after his death, including the line, "So rest in peace now friend John / We'll miss you a long while / And as the time goes marching on / We'll miss your friendly smile."


In May of 1998, Patrolman Gulden was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions on December 23, 1942, by the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Committee.


Please take a moment to remember Patrolman Gulden and his family.

Washington State Highway Patrolman John Henry Gulden
End of Watch – December 23, 1942
Gone But Never Forgotten

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