MUBG Tributes Memorialize a Life Lost with Messages of Love

In 1999, Marty Siddall accepted the position of general manager at KOMU-TV, a demanding job given the station’s dual role as a self-sustaining commercial entity as well as being part of the University of Missouri. In addition to being financially self-sustaining, KOMU-TV came with an educational component. Siddall said the station was responsible for helping all the students involved in the station’s activities equally, “from the recruits to the walk-ons.” 


Siddall retired in 2017, and these days, he and his wife split their time between Columbia and a home in Florida where he said his biggest challenge is finding court time to play pickleball, a nice pay-off after a 40-year career of hard work in the broadcast industry.


When Siddall brought his family to explore Columbia ahead of beginning his 18-year tenure at KOMU-TV, he said his daughter Paige immediately embraced the city. 


Paige Siddall

Page Siddall, daughter of former KOMU-TV General Manager Marty Siddall, planned to pursue a career in journalism, starting at MU, but was killed in a car accident in her senior year. Her father memorialized her bright life with a Tribute Tree, a Tribute Bench and with tributes on a bridge, all at the east end of Peace Park.

In middle school at the time, Paige led an active and engaged life and in high school, she worked on the school paper and was a member of the Young Democrats Club. 


“She was a lovely young girl, Siddall said. “She had a lot of great friends and was a great student.”


Paige was interested in a career in journalism and expressed an interest in New York University. 


“Give me a break,” Siddall told her. “We’ve got one of the best J-schools in the country. If you get your undergrad degree here, we can invest the money we save toward your master’s degree.


Paige relented. But unfortunately, the energetic, bright young woman never made it to MU. In 2006, when she was a senior in high school, she was killed in an automobile accident.


“When she passed, I wanted to do something to memorialize her,” Siddall said. A story in the news cycle at the time about a vandal who had cut down six trees on the MU campus — including one of Mizzou Botanic Garden’s Tribute Trees — caught his attention.


“What better way to memorialize her than to plant a tree in her honor,” he said. 


MU Administrator Jackie Jones and Terri Gray, who were working in MU Advancement, encouraged Siddall to look into the Mizzou Botanic Garden program. They recognized his involvement and popularity in the community — Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Heart of Missouri United Way; Ronald McDonald House, Great Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America and numerous other civic organizations — and the potential to raise funds for a greater impact.


“I can’t say enough nice things about them,” Siddall said. “It developed into a larger concept: a memorial tree, a bench and a bridge.”


Siddall worked with Terri Gray and the Director of Mizzou Botanic Garden and Landscape Services, Pete Millier, to develop the memorial, located on the west edge of Peace Park — near the J-school.


“Paige loved Peace Park,” Siddell said.


Millier was in his first year with MU and the Siddall tribute was his inaugural tribute project. He is set to retire at the end of March and has overseen dozens of Tribute Tree and Bench projects over the past 19 years but that first one was special.


“There have only been a couple of others that have stuck with me like this one has,” Millier, said. “It was my first tribute project and it was such a kindness being able to help a family with their grief.


“I was so impressed with how composed Marty was. It made me stop and consider myself in that situation.”  


As they worked on what to say on the tribute plaques, Siddall considered what Paige might like.


“My daughter was a little hippie,” he said. “She was a big Beatles fan. She thought the Beatles were right about everything.”


Siddall chose lyrics from his daughter’s favorite band for the tributes.


The plaque at the base of the large yellowwood tree that memorializes Paige reads, “In memory of Paige Noel Siddall. Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”


Paige’s Tribute Bench, beneath the yellowwood — a gorgeous native tree that drips with bunches of fragrant white flowers in the spring, reads, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”


There are two railings on the bridge that crosses the stream near the tree. One side says, “All you need is love…,”and the other side says, “…Love is all you need.” 


“Paige was a person who cared deeply about everyone,” Siddall said. “All of those choices. I was really grappling with the feelings that my daughter had.”


“And the feelings shared by Terri Gray and Pete Millier during the process; I cannot tell you what loving sensibilities those two people gave and how they made me feel.”


Paige would have been so pleased.

Paige Siddall's Tribute Bench in Peace Park

Grouped together on the east end of Peace Park are Paige Siddall’s Tribute Bench, at left, her Tribute Tree, a native yellowwood, and the bridge that also memorializes her. All three have lyrics from songs from the Beatles, which her father, former General Manager of KOMU-TV, Marty Sidall, said was her favorite band.