Philomath approves design for park honoring deceased Vietnam War veteran

Philomath officials have approved design concepts for a memorial park honoring a deceased Vietnam War veteran.

SPC. Paul “Jeff” Cochran graduated from Philomath High with the class of 1966, attending the US Army Airborne School before deploying to South Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.

Thinking of home, Cochran wrote to his grandmother from the war zone in March 1968, wondering if flowers were blooming in Philomath. He was killed in action in an enemy ambush on May 1, 1968, just five months after arriving in the country. He is buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

Fifty years later, Gold Star mother Beverly Durham donated Cochran’s teenage home on the corner of College Street and North 16th Street to the town of Philomath to become a park named for her late son: Paul J. Cochran Veterans Memorial Park.

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“I’m really excited to take the next step, to have a contractor on board who is going to work with these volunteers and these groups that really make this a community project,” said City Manager Chris Workman, thanking the park staff and supporters for their collective efforts. .

A concept drawing of the Paul J. Cochran Veterans Memorial Park.

Image courtesy of City of Philomath

Durham died in 2018 at age 90. She moved to Philomath in the 1960s and worked at Oregon State University for more than 20 years, earning two master’s degrees. Durham’s daughter Shane Fritz worked with the city and then Mayor Eric Niemann to fulfill her mother’s wishes.

The city signed on for the project received a grant from State Parks to build and install the memorial and a flagpole area, according to a staff report. American Legion Marys River Post 100 expressed its support and defense of grants to fund the project in a Nov. 8 letter to city council.

LandCurrent, designer of Flossie Overman Park, along with city staff and park board members finalized a conceptual design based on feedback from local veterans groups and the community, according to the staff report. Design features include benches, a flower garden, flag poles, a bronze plaque and a granite monument.

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A concept drawing of the Paul J. Cochran Veterans Memorial Park.

Image courtesy of City of Philomath

The staff report notes that other desired features include landscaping, more benches, a gazebo, a nature area, a climbing feature, and swings. The city has budgeted $248,100 in park development costs this year for the park. Supporters of the park secured donations of materials and volunteer labor to help with construction.

The city council must review and approve construction management proposals before a contractor is chosen to build the park. Construction is expected to be substantially complete by the end of the fiscal year, according to the staff report.

Philomath City Council members unanimously approved the designs for the park at their meeting on Monday, November 14. They also voted to have all play structures in the park designed for accessibility. City staff provide additional opportunities for community members to comment on design features early in the project.

Cody Mann covers the towns of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be reached at 541-812-6113 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter via @News_Mann_.

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