He helped make a lot of dreams come true for local musicians, so it only seemed right that Kurt Cochran and his wife Melissa would get to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a dream trip of their own to England.
As the world knows, that dream ended one week ago with his tragic death in the terror attack in London that killed five people, and left at least 50 others injured. Melissa was among those hurt -- suffering a broken rib, badly injured leg and a cut on her head. As of Tuesday, she was still recovering in a London hospital.
In the days that have followed, even as the news media has focused on the attack itself, the family members and friends of the Cochrans have had a different focus -- on Kurt’s life and what it has meant to the community.
“Kurt was an incredible volunteer for the Bountiful Davis Arts Center for many years,” said BDAC executive director Emma Dugal. “All of us who associated with Kurt are in mourning. I’ve received so many condolences from all over the world because of our connection to Kurt.”
The Cochrans, along with friend Bret Layton, have been instrumental in helping with the Sound Stage at Bountiful’s annual Summerfest. Dugal said that through those efforts, “Kurt has provided opportunities for local musicians to perform. He also managed the performances of the musicians of the international groups. It is hard to imagine what it will be like at Summerfest without Kurt’s warm, accepting and fun-loving presence.”
On Sunday afternoon, the center hosted a memorial for Cochran that was attended by about 100 people. Many gave heartfelt tributes to both Kurt and Melissa, who tutored and promoted local musicians through the couple’s Onion Street Studio, which they ran from the basement of their home.
Melissa’s brother, Clint Payne, has been serving as a spokesperson for the family.
“Our family is heartbroken to learn of the death of our brother- and son-in-law, Kurt W. Cochran, who was a victim of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London,” Payne said in a statement he released last Friday. “Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa. They were in Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and were scheduled to return to the United States on Thursday. Melissa also received serious injuries in the attack and is being cared for in the hospital. We express our gratitude to the emergency and medical
personnel who have cared for them and ask for your prayers on behalf of Melissa and our family. Kurt will be greatly missed, and we ask for privacy as our family mourns and as Melissa recovers from her injuries.”
Alysa Revell, assistant director of BDAC and Summerfest Coordinator, worked closely with Kurt and Melissa for eight years.
“I can’t remember what it was like without them,” she said. “Summerfest is a huge three-day undertaking, with performing arts groups from all over the world. Kurt added the Sound Stage that showcases musicians who aren’t on the main stage, and that allowed us to host many local and international musicians. He spent hours and hours donating his time to give those musicians a chance to perform. It has helped the entire festival feel more like a big party. Kurt and Melissa have been so inspirational for all of those performers, helping them follow their dreams.”
Since news of the attack broke, there has been an outpouring of support from across the globe. A GoFundMe account was set up immediately with a goal of $50,000 to help Melissa with expenses, but that goal was met in less than 48 hours. As of Tuesday morning, the fund had received over $72,000.
On Monday, the family met with reporters in London for the first time since the attack, saying they hold no ill will towards the man responsible, and thanking everyone for the kindness and love expressed to them. They were particularly complimentary for the hospitality and kindness of those in England, where tributes to the victims have been conducted daily since the attack.
Though no announcement has been made yet about services for Kurt Cochran or when Melissa might return to Utah, Revell expects the BDAC and the community will hold a tribute to Kurt later this year.
“He has meant so much to this community,” she said. “I can’t imagine not doing something for him and them -- a benefit concert, or special tribute at Summerfest. There will definitely be something. His loss will be felt greatly -- that’s for sure.”