Elvis Presley Once Built a Gym to Honor a Fallen Police Officer

by Matthew Wilson
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Elvis Presley loved the police. In fact, the singer once donated the funds to build a gymnasium in honor of a fallen police officer.

During the 1970s, the King of Rock ‘n Roll wanted to honor a late police officer in a big way. Presley donated thousands of dollars to complete the officer’s dream. Officer Merle Nading had been working on building a gym for his police department in Denver. Unfortunately, that dream was never realized for the officer.

Nading died while on patrol in 1971. The officer had been at the cross streets of East Colfax Avenu and Gaylord Street when a gunman opened fire. The gunfire struck and killed Nading during the exchange. Presley wanted to do something for the late officer.

The singer had become good friends with then-Denver police Capt. Jerry Kennedy. Presley learned of Nading’s death and the gym he was working on. As a result, the singer donated around $5,000 to complete the building and name it in Nading’s honor.

“One of Elvis’ great loves was law enforcement. He was in town visiting and heard Merle was killed. He was visibly shaken hearing a police officer had been killed,” Kennedy told the Denver Post. The two had become friends after Kennedy worked a few of Presley’s concerts. Presley even bought the captain a Cadillac and attended the captain’s brother’s funeral. “He just did those kinds of things.”

Elvis Presley’s Gymnasium

The police department decided to name the gym after both men in their honor. They named the location the Nading-Presley Memorial Gym. The department continued to use the building for their workouts until they moved locations. A plaque outside the building also recognized its historical significance.

“On October 3, 1971, Denver Police Officer Merle Nading was slain by a gunman at Colfax Avenue and Gaylord Street. Officer Nading was respected by his fellow officers and his passing was a blow felt by all. At the time of his death, Officer Nading had begun work on this gym, and as a tribute to him, his fellow officers completed it with their own unselfish work,” the plaque read.

Unfortunately, fans of Presley and the police force can’t visit the gym that Elvis built today. Instead, the address will take you to a local Walgreens. In 2012, the pharmacy chain bought the location and demolished the building as a result.

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