To donate to 'Marty's Memorial Bench' fund:
Call RCU (Royal Credit Union)
Make a donation at any RCU branch in person
*Ask to make a donation to "Marty's Memorial Branch
*If making a donation with a check, write out the check to "Marty's Memorial Branch"
TOWN OF LAFAYETTE, Wis. (WEAU) – Family members who dedicated a memorial bench to a young man at Ray’s Beach on Lake Wissota said they’re devastated that very bench was vandalized and destroyed.
The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department said the crime was reported around 8 a.m. last Thursday at Ray’s Beach near The View off Co. Hwy X.
What may be most heartbreaking is that the bench was dedicated to 27-year-old Martin J. Grorud of Eau Claire. Back in June 2002, Grorud’s body was found at Lake Wissota after he fell out of a boat. He was a passenger on the boat near the island on the southern end of the lake when investigators say he fell from the bow as the operator let off the throttle. Investigators say the boat then ran over Grorud.
Grorud’s sister Mandy Pohl said the bench was something to remember her baby brother Marty by.
“Because the community was so awesome to us, as a family, as friends who knew Marty,” said Pohl. “They gave so much of themselves, so much support and love and to this day that will bring tears to our eyes knowing how many people care and are there for us,” said Pohl.
She had found out about the vandalism through a friend and realized the only bench at Ray’s Beach that could be destroyed was Marty’s. Pohl said she had trouble sleeping that night and around 5 a.m., she went to the beach and sure enough, the bench was Marty’s memorial.
The memorial bench was made possible by community members, friends, the Eau Claire Flying Eagles Ski Jumping Club which Marty had belonged to and Central Division Judges.
Pohl said it’s a crime that has hit her deeply and personally, bringing back the tragic memories of the loss of her brother.
“I was absolutely shocked as is the community. Who would have done this? To me it was like an attempt to break his spirit, which if you knew Marty, that's not possible,” said Pohl.
Just a short distance from the beach, you can see the spot where Grorud lost his life, not too far from the island.
Pohl said the site has been an important part of her life as well as Grorud’s friends and community members.
“It was a reminder of his life and also to raise awareness on safety first. Life comes and goes very quick,” she said.
The broken pieces scattered across the ground is a painful reminder, Pohl said, of what happened eleven years ago.
“We want to move forward and it’s almost like the tragedy just happened and we're lost. We don’t' know what to do where to go from here,” said Pohl.
Pohl said she doesn’t want to give the suspect(s) any credit and hopes those responsible would need to give back to the community in some way, whether it is cleaning up the beach, standing guard over a new bench or serving the community in any other way.
She said already, community members have been asking about setting up another fund to help build another memorial bench in Marty’s name. Pohl said she’s thankful for the outpouring of support, both eleven years ago and again today.
“Another bench will go here and we hope that it will be indestructible and this bench will be watched by the community and also family and friends. It will be secure,” said Pohl.
If you’d like to donate to make Marty’s Memorial Bench possible, you can call any RCU (Royal Credit Union) branch and ask to donate to “Marty’s Memorial Bench.” You can also make payments at any RCU branch in the area.