Centennial Park memorial garden and wall honors market founder | PostIndependent.com

Centennial Park memorial garden and wall honors market founder

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jury Jerome Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It took the ladies of Glenwood’s Downtown Market a little while to get over the death of their good friend and market mentor, Rona Chorman. She died in June 2010, at the age of 54, of breast cancer.

But once the mourning was over the planning began. By the start of this summer, they had a plan for the Rona Chorman Memorial Garden at Centennial Park, at Ninth and Grand.

This week, in conjunction with the final market of the summer season on Tuesday, the group celebrated the completion of the garden and the wall behind it.

More permanent improvements are planned, including a water feature, a bench and plaques to honor the donors and volunteers who created the garden.

Chorman, said her friend and fellow market board member Jan Harr, “was recruited kicking and screaming to the first meeting” six years ago.

But once she realized how much fun it was, Harr said, “she jumped in with both feet.” Chorman became a key part of the volunteer-run market organization.

“She was our grounded-in-reality person,” Harr remarked. Chorman, a 20-year veteran of the Valley View Hospital nursing staff, would burst the bubbles of fantasy that sometimes formed around the market planners.

The other Downtown Market organizers, besides Chorman and Harr, were Cindy Svatos, Nancy Page, Linda Drake, Sharill Hawkins, Sue Sharpe, Sue Kuhn and Cindy Hines.

Chorman “was just a really stable part of the market,” said Hines. She remembers Chorman as “an incredibly independent person” who could be found building a deck or a tree house as sturdy as a home.

“She was very community minded,” Harr said.

Chorman was won over by the group’s parallel missions of establishing a farmer’s market downtown and creating a social event that would give people a reason to be downtown. The Downtown Market emerged just as Target, Lowe’s and other franchise stores were opening in Glenwood Meadows, and downtown needed something new and appealing.

Chorman pitched in and worked feverishly, even after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, refusing to concede her life to her disease.

“She even timed her exit,” Hines said. After fighting the cancer for two years, Chorman “just decided she didn’t want to fight it anymore.”

As the plans for a memorial garden in Chorman’s honor were bubbling in their minds, Svatos dragooned Blue Oak Studios designer Nathan Stowe, pulling him in to a meeting to discuss the project.

“There were eight women with very different opinions,” Stowe recalled.

He laughs while remembering how he took their ideas, synthesized them, whipped up some drawings and came up with the final design.

Stowe noted that he donated his design time. His father’s company, Ace Roofing, donated the corrugated metal sheets incorporated into the wall’s construction. Distinguished Board and Beams donated barnwood for the wall, too.

Tin ceiling panels came, locally speaking, from the old Captain Guild’s house next to the Roaring Fork River, and from the old Rex Hotel structure on Seventh Street, as well as Internet sites and other sources from around the country.

David Brown of Full Moon Enterprizes built the wall once all the materials were collected.

The wall and the garden are part of a plan the market’s board has had in mind all along – coming up with permanent enhancements to the park that, along with the farmer’s market every Tuesday, will bring shoppers into the downtown area.

“Every week, you see several generations of families showing up,” said board member Nancy Page with some pride.

Stowe, who lost his mother to cancer four years ago, said besides the garden and wall being a memorial to Chorman, “It also could be a remembrance, or a memorial garden, for other people.”


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