A touch of magic embraces Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park

By Gus Bode

Lew Greenstein is building his first castle.

A carpenter from Carbondale, Greenstein yanks his welding mask over his face and begins to slice through another steel beam. He and other craftsman are attributing to the magic of the Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park on Giant City Road.

It is nice to be doing something that will be built to last, Greenstein said. Most structures are built for about a 20-year period, but people will enjoy this park for a long time.

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Passers-by can view a castle under construction at the west end of the park. Wooden wizards dance in a circle, a dragon holds a ball, and randomly placed flowers and shrubs sprinkle the park with color.

The intricate site commemorates SIUC alumnus Barret Rochman’s son Jeremy, who was killed in an automobile accident on Giant City Road six years ago at age 19. Rochman began building the memorial two years ago on the east side of Giant City Road between Homewood and No Name roads.

The park, which will be open to the public next fall, is three and a half acres decorated with a fantasy theme. The memorial is located about 300 yards from the spot where Jeremy died.

Rochman said with the help of the artists and construction workers, he plans to make the park into a kind of memory for his son.

Somehow, I think when you put someone in a cemetery, they are gone, Rochman said This is a living memorial.

The $500,000 park is crafted to the imagination of Rochman’s son. Funding for the park came from a legal settlement and community donations. Rochman said Jeremy enjoyed playing role playing games and drew pictures of medieval subjects.

“I think he would enjoy this park,” he said. “He enjoyed this type of imagery. The money we got from the settlement we want to put back into the community.”

Greenstein currently is molding footings and foundations for the castle. It will be constructed of concrete, stone and weather-resistant wood. He took the job because it was unlike most jobs he has done before.

This was a project that looked interesting, he said. I learned I enjoyed working with things more then with people.

A dedicated worker, Greenstein sometimes finds himself working past his 3 p.m. quitting time.

On days when we are pouring concrete, you have to stay until it is done, he said. I take pride in my work.

Little hands and feet will also contribute to the beauty of the Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park, 1062 Boskydell Rd. With primary colors and paintbrushes, Giant City Consolidated School seventh and eighth grade students will be one of the many craftsmen contributing to the memory of Rochman.

Students will begin constructing the shields for the sides of the castle next week. Social studies teacher Robert Baker speculates the shields will be made of treated plywood with pictures of swords, castles and dragons painted on them.

Baker said that although the process will be a lengthy one, his students will be determined to put quality in the art work.

They will take pride in the work they have done, he said. Especially because it is on display in a public park.

Susan Mills wipes her moist forehead after shoveling mulch around shrubs 2 p.m. Tuesday. Mills has been working diligently since 7 a.m. to progress the aesthetic beauty of the park.

Mills, a Carbondale landscaper, plants flowers throughout the park rain or shine. Exhausted after many hours of labor, she takes a cigarette break.

“There is still so much to do, Mills said. This is the biggest project I have ever done the longest too. We are going to be here for a while.

Mills works in a fenced in area with a hill quilted with shrubs and perennial flowers. Benches for visitors to rest on will be in this section of the park. Mills said the work is moving quickly but remains strenuous in shoveling mulch, planting flowers or pulling weeds.

This line of work is extremely physical but it is not tedious, she said. If I didn’t enjoy it, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

The landscapers will work the land as long as weather permits but fear the season is almost over because of the toll frigid temperatures take on the plants.

We are at a standstill with planting because we can’t find any flowers in this season, she said. We will work when it is nice, but we are afraid it will get too cold soon.

Children from Giant City School helped the family to increase a sense of fellowship and community and to allow children for years to come to remember the life and love of Jeremy Rochman.

Jeremy was a part of this school, Baker said. This school is very family oriented and he was a student here in the past. We want to honor Jeremy with our art and give something back to the community.

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