For Everyone, Forever…
The rings inside Oglebay‘s venerable trees tell the story: Oglebay persists, generation after generation. A century after its founding, it offers something for everyone: fun, knowledge, connection, serenity.
And now, it offers one more thing for its most insightful and visionary patrons: the chance to make an enduring difference through philanthropic support.
Join us. Assuredly, Oglebay is “for everyone.”
The forever part is up to you.
Forever Yours: The Campaign for an Enduring Oglebay
Oglebay time has become synonymous with family time — that increasingly precious commodity.
Oglebay is unique. Not just because of its distinctive origins…or its long history…or its diverse activities…or the vibrant, restorative experience it provides to every visitor.
The park is unique because of its powerful impact as a builder of family connection, of community, of commerce, of pride. A mission-driven, charitable organization, Oglebay serves as our community’s “living endowment” — the legacy we all share.
Oglebay enriches families. Whether it’s a quick afternoon jaunt or a weeklong cottage retreat, the park’s diverse experiences let every family member discover their own favorite moment.
Amid the fun, something meaningful grows: the bonds that hold families together.
For many, Oglebay becomes a living family scrapbook….the place where generations come to renew their connection. The place where each visit sparks a cascade of treasured memories…memories of the last time, the first time, the best time…
Oglebay is an uncommon experience…shared in common by a whole community.
Through the Oglebay and Wheeling Park experience, residents become neighbors. That legacy is shared by former residents across the country, who fondly remember how the park helped shape their families.
Oglebay is much more than acres of beauty and joy. It’s how our community expresses its belief in serenity and family, opportunity and excellence…a way to say we are a venerable, dynamic community with a bright future.
When Oglebay opened, Wheeling was a powerhouse; the park was an adornment. Today, Oglebay channels economic strength to our community.
Whether it’s hosting that one-on-one sales luncheon, attracting outsiders to corporate retreats, accommodating weeklong conferences, or providing the first tour stop for companies enticing new recruits to town…Oglebay helps make the Ohio Valley attractive for businesses and their employees.
For 100 years, Oglebay and Wheeling Park have functioned like an enduring endowment, providing our community strong returns on investment — social, familial, and financial.
A land so beautiful could have had a much different history, as a private estate or housing development. Instead, Earl Oglebay gave Oglebay to the people of the Ohio Valley — as long as the citizenry would step up and steward his gift in perpetuity.
Today, as Oglebay’s first century draws to a close, it’s our turn.
In our hands lies the future of a unique and beloved icon, the heart and soul of the Ohio Valley — a vital touchstone for all who carry Oglebay forever in their hearts.
Philanthropy: Forever Forward
Because the park receives almost no government support, and because operations merely sustain the status quo, our campaign will seek vital philanthropic support for key priorities, including:
Oglebay and Wheeling Park are the legacy we all share.
Oglebay is America’s model park system, an enduring community asset that belongs to those who love it, not to shareholders of some corporation. Like nothing else could, Oglebay belongs to each of us.
What’s true for Oglebay’s tree rings is true for the park as a whole: each new stage of growth builds upon the last. Today, we have the chance to pass our Oglebay legacy forward — a growing, vibrant gift to the next generation.
In truth, this is not just Oglebay’s moment but ours. Please join us.
Gary and Flip West
Honorary Campaign Chairs
As the stepdaughter of Brooks Wigginton, (1912-1995), Wheeling Park Commission’s landscape architect, Hydie Friend grew up just outside the boundaries of Oglebay Park. For over 25 years, Friend sought grants to benefit projects, improvements and programming in Oglebay and Wheeling Park. Her efforts raised in excess of $10,000,000. Because of her fond memories of the park and the positive influence the Oglebay family has had on her, she generously donated all her time and efforts.
“Trees ask for so little and give back so much,” says Jay Keefer. He should know: many of his 86 years have been spent among Oglebay’s pines, sugar maples, and 100 other species.
Jay’s amazing Oglebay resume includes waiting tables at Pine Room dances in 1951, lifeguarding during college summers, meeting his future wife, Susanne, at the park, taking four-mile walks in the park every day throughout his life, and serving as a park ranger after retirement.
It’s hardly surprising that Jay and family memorialized Susanne with a fund to support the park’s walking trails. Jay continues to fund tree care through his annual giving — and in his estate plan.
On Oglebay’s tennis courts and golf links, Carl Nix has always been in there swinging.
It all started at Wheeling Park, playing golf with his high school buddies; at 75 cents a round, they’d play four or five times a week. After his stint in the Air Force, Carl found those friends had taken up tennis, so he did, too.
During 14 years as a teacher in St. Clairsville, Carl continued to play tournament tennis at Oglebay. When he shifted to real estate work in 1990, his firm sponsored golf scrambles — where his Oglebay experience also paid dividends.
Today, Carl’s still playing — and funding youth tennis and golf via an IRA charitable rollover. And his estate gift will continue to support the sports that shaped his life.
When their sons — Perry, Chris and Jeff — were growing up, C.J. and Debbie Kaiser spent many glorious days exploring the Good Zoo and the rest of Oglebay. Today, their sons are doing the same — with C.J. and Debbie’s six grandchildren.
Last year, the couple saw how pandemic-related closures were affecting the park and resolved to help. A generous donation of IRA funds helped drive a matching campaign that raised more than $700,000 to underwrite Trees and Trails, the Zoo, and the Gardens.
The Kaisers’ vision was to sustain Oglebay so it could be “the center of the community getting back in the swing of things,” per C.J. It worked: their gift helped expand the park’s live music offerings, giving the community a much-needed chance to come together this past summer.