Scholarship planned in Randy Chugg's memory

Father will bury Purple Heart with son

The family of a Jefferson City man whose body was recovered Tuesday will commemorate his life by starting a scholarship for students interested in the arts.

Randy Chugg, 21, was reported to have jumped from the Missouri River bridge Dec. 12 following an argument with his fiancee.

Jefferson City police announced Tuesday that the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division had reported that two fishermen had found a body by the Chamois River Access. Police identified the body as Chugg’s the following day.

In the days following Chugg’s disappearance, his family created a Facebook page titled “Help Find Randy Chugg” in an effort to raise awareness of the case. The page generated an outpouring of support, gaining more than 3,000 followers in a matter of days.

Now that their search has come to a close, Chugg’s family will transform the donations they’ve received into a scholarship fund for students interested in music, arts and psychology — subjects Chugg was passionate about.

Chris Chugg, Randy’s father, said the fund will benefit high school students about to enter college. It’s his way of giving back to the community while ensuring that Randy’s legacy lives on.

“We want to keep him alive,” he said. “We want to keep his name out there.”

The family had planned two fundraisers earlier this year to help with the search for Randy: a March 18 dinner at Country Kitchen, and a March 22 pool tournament at Side Pockets, a Blue Springs sports bar. The events will still take place as scheduled, but proceeds will now go toward the scholarship.

A visitation service for Chugg will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Dulle-Trimble Funeral Home, with services to follow.

Chris Chugg, a former Marine and Purple Heart recipient, said the services will include a special ceremony in which the medal will be transferred from his uniform to his son’s casket — a ceremony made possible by the generosity of Brett Burns of ArmyGear, a Columbia-based military surplus store.

Chugg no longer has his original Purple Heart and knew he would have to purchase one for the occasion. When he walked into Burns’ store, he didn’t have his DD Form 214 — documentation of his discharge from service — and Burns said he wouldn’t be able to sell him a replacement medal.

As he prepared to leave, Chugg briefly explained the reason for his request. And then, he said, Burns did something that surprised him.

“He ripped it off the wall and handed it to me,” Chugg said. “He said, ‘No father should have to bury his child.’ I was just overwhelmed at that point.”

In the days ahead, Chugg said he and the rest of Randy’s family want to focus their efforts on helping young people who are struggling with depression. To raise awareness of the issue, they plan on giving talks and donating money to other families of missing children.

Chugg said he hopes Randy will be remembered as a person who was constantly “giving and giving,” a talented artist whose skill in art and music came second only to his ability to interact with children.

“He was always trying to help other people,” Chugg said. “He was so selfless.”

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