Marianne and Patrick Fugeman

Walkability in any city is vital. So is relaxation. Luckily, you can find both in Independence with the recent addition of two new benches located along the beautiful Willamette River Trail. One is situated near the Independence dog park, and the other is just south of the Independence Sports Complex. Patrick and Marianne Fugeman donated the two benches to the city and were part of a ribbon-cutting event that unveiled the finished product.


Accessibility Top of Mind

Part-time residents of Independence, as well as the state of Delaware, the Fugemans traveled across the globe and were impressed with the walkability and accessibility present in some countries. It reminded them of home in Independence. Upon returning to the States and visiting the Willamette River Trail, they desired to add this accessibility to one of their favorite places.


“We just saw a need,” shared Patrick.


While walking along the trail one day and nearing the end of the path, they needed a moment of respite during their long excursion.


“We thought it would be nice to sit down right there and maybe drink a cup of coffee,” said Patrick.

Willing into Reality

Wishing to bring their bench dream to reality, the Fugemans connected with Mayor John McArdle who told them about the financial constraints of the city. Wanting to pursue the project, the Fugemans explored the possibility of donating benches to the city.


The Fugemans cut the ribbon to welcome benches to Independence.

“We wanted to contribute to our community,” said Patrick.


Later, they sketched out a map and found two spots they believed would best suit the benches, with views of the Willamette River at the top of their mind. With the help of local community action agency Community Services Consortium, cement pads were poured, and the benches were installed by Independence public works crews. The city of Independence covered the cost of the cement pouring.


To complete the community-minded effort, the benches will hold a special dedication.

A Special Dedication

The benches will include a forthcoming plaque dedicated to all grandparents; an effort made more special with the news of another Fugeman grandchild on the way.


“We aren’t going to have any specific names on them (the plaques),” shared Marianne. “We’re going to put ‘Grandma and Pop-Pop’ on them.”


Despite their generous contribution to the enjoyment of the Willamette River Trail, the Fugemans remain humble in their pursuit.


“It’s not like we’re building an interchange on a highway or putting in a new bridge,” laughed Patrick. “We just thought it could benefit several people in the community.”


Thanks to the Fugemans, the next time you’re on the Willamette River Trail you can take a breather and fully experience the beauty all around. However, in Independence that’s never a hard thing to do.