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Tuesday, November 8, 2005 8:31 PM CST


Union-Bulletin article entitled "Rock Solid Tribute"

Bear with me, this page keeps getting revised as I learn more of the story behind this awesome memorial. Keep checking to be sure you've read the latest version.

Another amazing, heart-warming, gut-wrenching day in this journey. Val told me to bring the kids and be at the WaHi gym at 3:30. We gather, the day crisp, clear and cool, the sun shining brightly, not a cloud in sight. Football season is over, bringing a sense of sadness coupled with a new freedom. Anticipation fills the air. As this huge flatbed semi pulls into the parking lot, with a mysterious, huge lump wrapped in plastic on the back, I find myself looking for Dave, truly expecting him to come jogging out from behind the weight room, keys jingling, the ever-present bounce in his step..."Did I miss anything?"

Val "Applebutter" Cole, and the class of 1981 got this giant rock to put on WaHi's campus. Karla Broughton, Dave Cochrane, Joe Golden and Lisa Pontorolo were there today, too. Val, Joy Cunnington Moniz and Scott Young had picked out this rock. Joy tells the story of going through a field of huge boulders, testing out each one, laughing and crying and asking Dave, "This one?" They got the right one. This rock is 3,500 pounds! A huge crane lifted it from the truck (carried it right over my van!) and gently placed it on the grass, just outside the entrance to the gym.

The kids pulled off the black tarp to reveal the most beautiful rock, etched with Dave's name, the WaHi emblem, a basketball #22, a football helmet, plus his guitar. Not just a generic guitar, but his friend, his companion...his guitar. (Recognize your photo, Evy?)

Here's a pic:

It was overwhelming and beautiful. I had a hard time looking at people, I was scared to slow down and let myself feel. I held together okay, until I hugged Skip, who walked through the valley with us. Val talked a little, dedicating the rock to Dave and giving our family the Class of '81 donations. We held hands in a circle, Skip prayed, Lisa commended Val on pulling it all together so beautifully.

It's so fitting that there be something of Dave at WaHi. The people at WaHi meant so much to Dave. He loved that place. He gave his all, as a student, as a coach, as a teacher. He was proud to be a Blue Devil. He was involved in ASB, he was homecoming king, class speaker, football and basketball co-captain, involved in Chamber Singers, drama and an excellent student. He loved it at WaHi, he wanted to be involved in everything, and know everyone. He loved the class of '81. He carried that love and school pride into his teaching there.

The rock is perfect. It's big enough for kids to climb on. And our kids certainly were climbing, wrestling, cavorting around--with Matt and Doug, of course! Mindy looked at them and said, "You know Dave would be right in there." I know he would love this. Dave always said, "Stand on the Rock." His foundation was always secure. Dave was my rock, my steadfast protector, my fortress, my hiding place. He never faltered, never wavered. The man was as solid as this rock. I'm not the only one that drew strength from his constant faith and his abiding love. Touching the face of the rock, so deeply etched, designed to weather any storm, in any age, from now until forever, I was reminded of Dave. I saw many people tenderly trail their fingers over Dave's name, clearly they felt it, too.

One of our favorite songs by the Shepherd's Staff:

Put my feet on the Rock,
A firm place to stand,
Put a song in my mouth
And now I lift up my hands

The rock, like my bracelet, says:


Dave showed us that love, every day, in so many ways. Each day brings new memories. It's conference week, and I remember Dave, bounding out the door to conferences, eating dinner on the go, looking forward to the night, never complaining, wanting to meet the families of his students. Wanting to find a way for each student to succeed. And most importantly, making sure that each student felt valued, felt cared about, felt loved.

Do a Dave thing. Go let somebody know that you love them. Especially if they are hard to love. The ones who are the least loveable need it the most. "Make it a great day." (DM after Coach Frosty at PLU.) Do a Dave thing...and remember.

Last week the WaHi choirs had their first concert of the year, under the direction of Norb Rossi. The last song was in memory of Dave, "I Will Lift Mine Eyes." Music, another place where Dave gave so freely, and now WaHi remembers. Just like homecoming, Dave always read these goofy poems announcing the court, this year, Ron read one for Dave. WaHi remembers. Football players with DM wristbands. Students with gray brain tumor bracelets and yellow LIVEstrong bands. WaHi remembers.

Thank you, Val. Thank you Class of '81.
Thanks to all the people that supported this incredible effort in one way or another:
(The list was big: if I missed you, let me know! Any errors are mine and entirely unintentional.)
Special thanks to Lloyd Cunnington of Thompson Monuments and to Dave and Charlie Konen of Koncrete Industries and Konen Rock. Thanks to Dave Cochrane of Konen Industries.
Thanks to school district administrators and plant facilities staff for your efforts and cooperation.
And to the Class of '81 members:
Val Applebee Cole
Thomas Beebe
Scott Young
Joy Cunnington Moniz
Lisa Webb Pontorolo
Karla Griffin Broughton
Vickie Kibler
Tim Towner
Tammy Toon Cordoza
Tammy Buccarelli Sprengal
Steve and Laurie Jordan
Craig Nelson
Janalee Croft Davis
Dave Cochrane
Joe Golden
Stephanie Edwards Plowman
"Stella" Cheryl Hansen
Sarah Williams Dahger
Roger Zander
Robin Clayton Thomas
Rick Tuttle
Rick Anglin
Brad Springer
Ray Hansen
Mike and Laurie Klicker
Mike Lucarelli
Marlit Stevens Stubb
Marla Fitzsimmons
Mark and Lisa Klicker
Margaret Noble Jackson
Denise Richmond Habash
Lori Gardener
Lori Deeringhoff Wahl
Lori and Matt Tucker
Lance Jacky
Lori Long Hinton
Linda Hapner Clark
Laura Rau
Kim Gugliemelli
Kevin and Kirsten Pribilsky
Kelly Thompson
Kay Gugliemelli
Kathy Lopez Yancey
Jenny Lloyd Charlo
Gretchen Mann
Dave Neissl
Cindy Pederson
Chip and Roxanne Lake
Cathy and John Hair
Carri Aichele-Klein
Bob Case
Becky Girsberger Janis

Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for the donations for the children. I wish I had better words to let you know, how much this means, how your gift honors Dave, how truly grateful we are, how loved we feel. How important it is to us that you all remember.

There are many places in this world that are wondrous, but none come close to this town...Walla Walla, a small town, in the middle of the wheat fields, where love is something you can touch.

Love, Chelle

Here are some TOUCHDOWN photos!


Thank you, WaHi coaches and players. We love you all!


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