MALIN — Dark clouds loomed over the Klamath Basin Wednesday, soon erupting into an evening rainstorm. But that isn’t stopping Chris Young — local muralist whose work can be seen throughout Klamath Falls — from working on the finishing touches of one of his new murals that can be seen at the veterans park developing in Malin.
Though Young’s primary career was as a fourth-grade teacher — he retired recently — he has a lot of experience painting vivid, realistic murals locally.
“I’ve never really been trained in this, but I’ve been doing it a long time,” Young said. “In the summers, I needed something to do, and I love to do art. In ’95, I started painting in the summers. It’s been a great summer thing for me.”
The veterans park will have its grand opening on Veterans Day in November, and it is funded in part by a grant for war memorials from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The murals Young is working on in Malin focus on military events with local relevance, including a dedication to Ehle Hiram Reber, a Malin native who died serving as an Air Force pilot during World War II.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Young said. “He was a real hero from here.”
Ryan Bartholomew, a member of the Malin City Council and president of their historical society, said the town was inspired by the Tulelake Veterans Park to transform a long-vacant lot in Malin into a memorial.
“That lot’s been vacant for 50 years,” Bartholomew said. “We thought we might as well do something with it.”
Bartholomew is an Air Force veteran himself, and he said local veterans and supporters appreciate efforts like this.
“There are a high percentage of people here who have served in the military,” he said. “It’s a very patriotic kind of community.”
Young agrees. He said the community is very supportive of this kind of work; they understand what it means.
“I think they know the importance of it, what it means to the whole country,” Young said. “They gave it all so we could be free.”