‘I’m in disbelief’: KC real estate investor, dad Warner Trotter Jr. killed at age 41

·6 min read

Editor’s note: This feature is part of a weekly focus from The Star meant to highlight and remember the lives of Black Kansas Citians who have died.

“Everybody’s hurt. Everybody is in disbelief. I’m in disbelief,” says Warner Trotter III, the oldest son of Warner Trotter Jr. The loss of his father was a shock.

Trotter Jr., a Kansas City real estate investor and entrepreneur, died Aug. 7 at the age of 41 after being shot on the front porch of his home. While a person of interest was taken into custody, the case is ongoing.

“There’s so many things that I will miss about my father,” his son says. “His smile, I will miss his laugh and I will miss his conversations. I feel like I was very fortunate enough to be able to call him my best friend. He was very loved. He loved his kids. We never went without, it didn’t matter what it was.”

His father, a Kansas City native, gave him the passion to also go into real estate. Though his father was only 14 when his son was born and dropped out of high school to support his child, he was able to provide a life for his son that led him to graduate with a marketing degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“My dad was always so giving. I have been hearing so many stories from people about how much my dad cared and looked out for people. Even the contractors that worked for him on his houses. Some of them didn’t even have transportation, and my dad would give them rides, he would make sure that they ate, were hydrated and treated them like human beings,” he says.

Warner Trotter Jr., 41, died Aug. 7.
Warner Trotter Jr., 41, died Aug. 7.

With his loss, his six children, other family and friends must now attempt to move forward without the encouraging pillar of support.

“He was a natural motivator,” says Tierra Roberson, the mother of Trotter’s second-born son. “He would motivate you and encourage you to strive for the best. And whatever potential that he saw in people he would always support them.”

He will be remembered as a loving parent who made sure to work hard to ensure his children would have a better life than he had.

“Everyone is grieving and trying to process in their own way, but we are all rallying for the children,” says Roberson. “Everything he did was for his kids. Warner did whatever he could for them, and he sacrificed a lot so that they can have what they want and have a better life.”

Roberson, who had known Trotter since middle school, remembers him as someone who was always funny, charming and honest to a fault with those he cared about.

“Sometimes he would say things to people and I would be like, dang Warner, that was kind of harsh. But it was only because he believed in people so much and wanted to see them doing better for themselves,” she says.

Warner Trotter Jr. with four of his six children.
Warner Trotter Jr. with four of his six children.

Over the past five years, Trotter started his own real estate business, flipping houses in the urban core. That occupation allowed him to take control of his future and build a legacy he could pass along to his children.

“The children are doing the best they can. I think right now it is hitting them they will not have their dad be there to see them grow up,” says Roberson.

Trotter was widely mourned on social media.

“Dang bro cant believe it, praying for your children and your family, so unbelievable”

“One of the realest!! When I started pouring back into the community you always told me keep pressing and don’t give up! Anytime I posted a flyer you donated, good people are hard to come across and you were a GREAT person to come across”

‘I really cant believe this. RIP, praying for the family”

For Roberson, the loss of a lifelong friend and co-parent is still sinking in. However, she knows that she will always have to remind her son about the loyal and caring man his father was.

“He was a good father and a good friend. He had a good heart. If you needed something, he would do it. And if he couldn’t do it, he would find and send somebody that could do it,” says Roberson.

Other remembrances

Betty Potts, a mother and church worker, died Aug. 2. She was 85.
Betty Potts, a mother and church worker, died Aug. 2. She was 85.

Betty Ruth Potts

Betty Ruth Potts, a mother and church worker, died Aug. 2. She was 85.

Potts was born on Feb. 13, 1937, in Moffett, Oklahoma, to the Rev. Jospehine Roberson and Clint Wright. She would be the couple’s only child and was affectionately nicknamed Baby Ruth, for her middle name and her favorite candy.

Growing up in rural Oklahoma was tough for her. She often had to walk many miles with her grandparents just to make it to church. This was the start of a long life centered in the church.

Potts and her family were forced to leave Moffett after their home was destroyed in a flood. The family soon relocated to Kansas City, where Potts’ aunt owned a beauty shop and her husband managed an ice cream and barbershop.

Potts became heavily involved with church, singing in the choir alongside her cousins, who she considered as her siblings.

In 1953 she would marry the love of her life, Ferris “Sonny” Potts, and the two would go on to have nine children. They were both highly attentive parents, dedicated to their children and keeping them involved with church activities.

In later life Potts became an avid traveler, planning many cruise trips with family and friends.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Anita Potts, Edna Alexander, Frances Cunningham, Ferris A. Potts Jr., Peggy Rowell, Randy Potts, Larry Lee Potts, Teresa Hill, Vernon Potts, as well as a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Darlene Collins Burrows, educator and mother, died Aug 4. She was 101.
Darlene Collins Burrows, educator and mother, died Aug 4. She was 101.

Darlene Collins Burrows

Darlene Collins Burrows, educator and mother, died Aug 4. She was 101.

She was born July 28, 1921, in Coffeywille, Kansas, to William Collins and Ellen Collins. The third of eight children, she grew up in difficult times during the Great Depression.

Educated in the Coffeyville public school district, Burrows was encouraged and supported by family to pursue education and follow her dreams.

While in college at Pittsburg State University she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., an organization that would help her in building lifelong friends and a sense of sisterhood.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education. But with the start of World War II , she worked at a bomb factory inspecting munitions.

After the war, Burrows worked as a teacher in an era of racially segregated schools throughout the Midwest and South.

She began to stand up for Black students and educators by demanding the same quality of books and other learning materials that were made available to the white schools.

She would eventually move to Kansas City and make it her home. She met and married Monroe Burrows. After the birth of their first and only child, Burrows would return to school to pursue her master’s degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York.

Both Burrows and her husband were educators within Kansas City Public Schools as well as leaders within their community and church.

She retired from teaching in 1983 and devoted herself to caring for her husband after a serious auto collision left him in need of a full-time care giver until he died in 1991. After his death, she would dedicate much of her time to taking care of family members and loved ones.

She is survived by daughter Lisa Burrows; two grandchildren, Alexander and Gabrielle; son-in-law Andre, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.