History of Philanthropy

“Philanthropy has played an important part in building a park system that is admired throughout the country. You play an important part in that experience. The development of Oglebay and Wheeling Park is a story of philanthropy,” says Randy Worls, Foundation chairman. “From the very beginning, millions of private dollars have been contributed to finance the improvements that have been made throughout the years.”

The Parks System Trust Fund was established in 1945 to raise money for capital growth. Most of the facilities and improvements from the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, including several sections of Wilson Lodge, were made through gifts to the trust fund. It is gratifying to park officials that support from many families has continued down through several generations.

In 1996 The Oglebay Foundation was created to allow for more flexibility. Through its planned giving and major gift programs, the Foundation is working to raise millions of dollars for new facilities, upgrades to facilities and for endowments. The Oglebay Foundation now serves as the “umbrella repository” for all private gifts to the parks.

Wheeling’s parks have been successful in obtaining federal, state and foundation grants because of the local funds and gifts of land available as a match. For this reason, when the innovative Land and Water Conservation Fund was established through the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in the mid-1960s, three of the first four grants were awarded to the Wheeling Park Commission.

The operation of the Wheeling Park Commission will continue to remain a tremendous challenge each year. The operation of Wheeling Park and Oglebay and the generation of revenues from a wide variety of facilities will not be enough to sustain the parks in the future. This means the use of The Oglebay Foundation to aid the Park Commission in raising money for operations, development and endowment is vitally important in keeping our parks for everyone forever.