‘Closure and healing’: Community remembers Sarah Ogden
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Those well-known words from Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who” defined the collective mind-set of the nearly 80 people, young and old, who gathered in Parachute’s Cottonwood Park Friday evening to remember the life of Sarah Ogden.
“This service today is intended to honor this young life and to provide closure, healing and hope for so many who knew her briefly and a community of people who cared so deeply,” Jed Johnston, Grand Valley Fire Protection District chaplain, said to those in attendance.
Sarah was a little more than a month old when she died June 20 in what was eventually ruled a homicide — the first in the town of about 1,000 people since 2005. Her twin brother was uninjured and placed in protective custody.
Her parents, Matthew Ogden and Phyllis Wyatt, fled before being charged in Sarah’s death and were ultimately arrested in Minnesota.
The tragedy and ensuing search grabbed headlines across the state and beyond, and while Friday’s service was intended to remember Sarah, Johnston said it was important to remember the “tragic event of abuse that resulted in the life of Sarah Ogden being taken from her,” and the impact it continues to have on the community.
“In the end all the efforts could not reverse what had been done to Sarah,” he said. “This devastating and senseless act would continue to impact many others and multiple agencies and, over the course of just several days, even an entire community. … Today we don’t want Sarah’s death to go without memory, and what an encouragement to see so many of you coming to honor and show your respects for her.”
Johnston was not the only one who found comfort in the turnout that evening.
“It says we’re a small community,” said Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire, “but we have a lot of concerned citizens and many who were affected by Sarah’s death, even though they did not know her.”
Glassmire and other community leaders who organized the service are also raising funds for a memorial park bench or similar symbol remembering Sarah.
“The hope is that our kids will be able to come to this park with their kids and remember little Sarah Ogden,” Glassmire told the crowd.
Additional funds will go toward keepsakes for Sarah’s twin brother, and possibly a college fund. Any remaining money will go toward a local nonprofit organization that provides services to child abuse victims and their families.
As of Friday evening, Sarah’s Go Fund Me page, gofundme.com/sarahogden, was up to $290, with a goal set at $10,000. Donors can also visit any Alpine Bank and donate funds to the benefit account 8900089528 in the trust of Sarah Ogden.
Christina Klossner closed the service with “Amazing Grace,” which she sang with clarity as some in attendance fought back tears. A few lingered in the park afterwards talking with one another and lending support in the form of hugs.
“I think it speaks for itself,” Cathy Redman, a Rifle resident who works for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, said of Friday’s service. “We care about our kids.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.