More than $300,000 donated is finishing project at Mt. View

by: PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Hundreds of families from across the Northwest visit the construction site of the Parents of Murdered Children Memorial on Sept. 25, at Mt. View Cemetery, 500 Hilda St.
A national organization for people who have lost a loved one to homicide is completing its only Pacific Northwest memorial in Oregon City.

Hundreds of families who have experienced homicidal violence from across Oregon and Washington visited the construction site of the Parents of Murdered Children Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Mt. View Cemetery, 500 Hilda St.

Mt. View donated 5,625 square feet of space for a wall inscribed with the names of about 1,000 men, women and children who were killed in Oregon or Washington or who had family members in the region.

Families visiting the cemetery for the ceremony had diverse stories. The visitors included Tigard residents Bill and Jean Phillips, whose brother, Joe Vanoudenhaegen, was killed by a drunk driver near his Tektronix job in Beaverton in 1979. Considering the murderer received only two years for involuntary manslaughter, Vanoudenhaegen’s 86-year-old mother wanted to come to the memorial’s opening but found it to be too emotional and asked her daughter to go in her place.

“It’s really the realization that it was murder that gets to me,” said Jean Phillips, as tears welled up in her eyes.

The metro area’s POMC chapter chair, sharing a loss with more than 3,000 organization members locally, had a son who was murdered in their Oregon City home 24 years ago.

The group has raised more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind donations to complete the project.

“It’s been really difficult to raise all that funding because of the economy and because our people are so distraught over the loss of their loved ones that oftentimes they can’t work,” Mary Elledge said.

Local designer

Plans had always called for a water feature, but halfway through the project they decided it would be much more striking to have water cascading over a larger part of the wall into a pool likened to the shape of historic Willamette Falls.

“We were a little disappointed to do the ceremony now because it’s not completely finished, but when it’s done in a couple months, it’ll be so much grander than it was originally envisioned,” Elledge said.

The keynote speaker for this year’s “National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Homicide” was Former Attorney General Hardy Meyers. Marking the construction kickoff event held at the cemetery in 2010, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger keynoted his support for the memorial prior to a number of other local law enforcement officials, including John Foote, county district attorney.

“We have joined together and we also hope that our memorial will be a place others will go to find solace and peace,” Elledge said. “We are also adding the names of police officers and firefighters who have been killed in the line of duty — a way to thank those who have been there for us.”

Local Oregon City designer Mike Osterman designed the memorial for the two groups to share space, and offered his work free of charge in memory of his brother-in-law, who was murdered in Oregon City.

Larry Potter, manager of Mt. View Cemetery, provided the site and helped “Friends of Mountain View Cemetery” through the long process to get permission from other city departments to build the memorial.

Jane and Clifford Kennedy hope that the memorial will keep their hope alive for finding their grandson’s murderer. At 22, Anthony Dale (Tony) Kennedy disappeared on July 3, 1999, when police found his pickup with $1,000 in cash.

The Amity residents say that Beaverton police suspect their grandson was murdered because he didn’t leave with any luggage, but it’s still a cold case.

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