Remembering Mayor Berkley

November 29, 2023

Remembering Mayor Berkley

Remembering the legacy of Kansas City Mayor Richard “Dick” Berkley.

Berkley Riverfront, Kansas City, MO. – It is with sad hearts and mournful minds that the Port KC family sends our condolences to the loved ones of former Kansas City Mayor Richard Berkley. Berkley Riverfront Park and the surrounding area will carry on his namesake as a thank you for his extraordinary history of service to the people of this city. He was known as a man of the people, a great supporter of this city, and a valued citizen.

“Every great city needs a solid foundation. Mayor Berkley’s efforts solidified Kansas City’s place as one of the best to call home. His work was a building block to KC becoming a top-rated destination, he opened the doors for our hometown to become a global opportunity. We say thank you to his years of dedication and service,” says Jon Stephens, Port KC CEO

Mayor Berkley served in the post from 1979 to 1991. He was one of only five mayors to be elected to a third term. And the mayor who served the most years in the office, holding it for 12 years. His legacy includes bringing 911 services to the city’s residents and creating the mayor’s task force on food and hunger, drugs, and AIDS. He created the Kansas City Jazz Commission and co-originated the Kansas City Ethics Commission. He chaired the Municipal Art Commission and served on the Police Board. He was a council member for 10 years beginning in 1969, elected Mayor Pro Tem by his colleagues on the council for the last eight of those years.

Missouri Congressman Emanual Cleaver succeeded Mayor Berkley in 1991 calling his mentor and predecessor a dear friend, “There are countless things I could say to honor the memory and legacy of Mayor Berkley—the first Jewish Mayor in Kansas City’s history or his Harvard-educated business acumen to name just a few—but in this moment of bitter polarization, I’ll always remember his refusal to look at life through a partisan lens. Although he was a Republican, and I a Democrat, I cannot recall a single moment when Mayor Berkley was anything less than helpful, supportive, and committed to the progress and unity of our communities—because that was all that mattered in his eyes. I believe that is something to be treasured, and something that will be sorely missed.”

His efforts and popularity were also recognized outside of Kansas City’s city limits. He served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, he was president of the Missouri Municipal League, served as chairman of the Film Commission, Chairman of People to People International, and was a member of the Jackson County Sports Complex.

Mayor Berkley also held an exhibit at the Kansas City’s Central Library eight years ago reliving his life through his own lens. He was a shutterbug and couldn’t help but snap photos of celebrities and his travels around the world. It is thought he had roughly 150,000 photos in his personal collection.

While we are sad to hear of his passing, we have always been honored to carry on Mayor Berkley’s legacy.

Mayor Berkley Cutting the ribbon official opening Union Berkley Riverfront.

Mayor Berkley at the groundbreaking of Front Street. This photo comes from Mayor Funkhouser’s Flickr page.