Your Oglebay Story
Oglebay’s rich history grows with every visitor and guest. Read the stories of some of those who enjoy the park and learn how you can help the Oglebay Foundation ensure that Oglebay will be here to inspire visitors to create new memories for generations to come.
Flip & Gary West’s Oglebay Story
“When you donate to the park, you are part of the park.”
– Flip West on donating to the Oglebay Foundation
Gary West and his wife, Flip, are long-time Wheeling residents who enjoy the value that Oglebay Park brings to the community.
“We come to OglebayFest every year. We get a cabin,” Gary notes. “Flip likes to cook, so she invites 20 people to come in so she can cook for them–”
“–and I keep saying, ‘Why don’t you cater it,’ and she says, ‘No, I want to cook.’ That’s her favorite.”
Flip and Gary have two daughters with fond memories of Oglebay. “Anytime they come back, they always want to come to Oglebay and refresh their memories,” Gary adds.
“And we did Gary’s family reunion up here last Thanksgiving. We kept saying, ‘Where do you all want to go,’ and every one of them said, ‘Oglebay Park.’”
Flip describes the warm feelings that are evoked when you arrive at the park. “You see the care in this park that comes through [Chairman Randy Worls] and his staff, that–you can’t help it but be overwhelmed.” She goes on to describe the park’s entrance. “It’s like curb appeal in a house,” she recounts. “You know when you come up here–this is the beginning of a good thing.”
As a retired business owner and philanthropist, Gary understands the constant uphill struggle inherent in maintaining such vibrant landscapes and up-to-date facilities as are found in the park. “I’m hoping that the local community will help the park in many ways–in their wills and their trusts, and, as we go along, their cash deposits to the park. They’ll come back tenfold to the public.” He and his wife have invested in the development of the West Spa and continue to make generous contributions to the Foundation. “We just talk, and the next day I say, ‘Flip, we are going to do this for Oglebay,’ and she says, ‘Oh, that’s great! When were you going to tell me?!’”
Flip stresses the need for donations in support of the park. “I can’t imagine anyone living here–or anyone in the Tri-State Area that comes to this park–not wanting to be a part of it,” she explains. “When you donate to the park, you are part of the park.”
“It’s a great investment that all people in Ohio County can make.”
For Les DeFelice, CEO of Wheeling, W.Va. – based DeFelice Group, Inc. (doing business as Visiting Angels), his diverse career started at Oglebay Park.
Reflecting on his path and how he got here, Les gets a bit emotional. “In May 1971, I was fresh out of Wheeling High living near downtown with my single mother and two younger siblings. Friendships I made in high school included some of the golfers who encouraged me to apply at Oglebay. I still clearly remember sitting across from Randy Worls, then Wheeling Park Commission president and CEO, for an interview. I was clean cut, polite and respectful, which worked in my favor, and I was hired to work on the Spiedel Course, then 50 percent completed.”
Les’ fond memories of Oglebay began with the interview with Randy’s measured, friendly tone. He worked for Director of Golf Ed Murphy, a driven, exacting perfectionist when it came to the golf courses.
“Coach Murphy could be terrifying to us young guys. I owe Coach Murphy a debt of gratitude as I developed zero fear, which has benefited me time and time again in business. There were six of us future college freshmen living in a primitive cabin at Caddy Camp, Cabin 5. We would get up at the crack of dawn to cut grass and the greens. At noon, we would be driven back to Caddy Camp where we would have an incredible hot lunch made by Mrs. Ed Murphy with ice-cold milk in tin cups that looked like they were used in the Civil War. Then it was back to work on the course for the rest of the day,” Les remembers with a laugh. “Years later, Coach Murphy said he was proud of what I was beginning to accomplish. With no father in my life, that meant the world to me.”
In the winter months, the crew spent their hours at the modest ski slope located at the Par 3 working the ski lift during the day or making snow all night. The golf/ski-season job introduced Les to a world entirely different from what he knew growing up, enabling him to attend West Liberty. “Working at Oglebay opened so many doors, introducing me to so many opportunities. I went from not having many prospects to having hope for a future, thanks to Randy Worls.”
From a very early age, Les wanted to know how to be successful. Three people at different times in his life shared the following words of wisdom:
“You have to get along with people.”
“We’ll love you like baby Jesus, but you’ve got to produce.”
Les continues to leverage these mantras to build his second successful business, which has consistently received honors and awards at a national level for its innovative leadership and hiring best practices. With a career that took him to Chicago, Dallas, Houston and New York City before moving back to Wheeling, the father of two sons says his success is due to “surrounding myself with people smarter than me and always putting everyone on the team ahead of myself. Those are the key factors in currently having 500 coworkers and probably 1,000 by the end of the decade.”
“Generosity is something that I experienced from an early age, exemplified especially by my incredible mother. As I think about giving back, naming the Oglebay Foundation as the beneficiary of a whole life insurance policy is the beginning of how I plan to return the investment Oglebay made in me.”
Talk about making a difference in the parks.
Brilliant, Ohio, native Denise Pentino was determined to graduate from college early. To achieve this goal, the then 20-year-old Wheeling Jesuit University student needed to attend summer night classes while earning money during the day, so she applied to be a lifeguard at Oglebay.
“They didn’t hire me to lifeguard; those are coveted jobs that got filled long before I applied. But they took a chance and hired me to paint park signs,” Denise shares. She spent the summer of 1989 lugging a ladder all over the park painting the brown signs with the yellow lettering that still dominate the park. “It was a typical eight-hour day that started at 7 a.m. – not a fun start-time for a young college student.
“One day, my supervisor, Dennis Jones, tells me, ‘You’re painting yourself out of a job. Slow down.’ I didn’t understand until I literally painted myself out of a job.”
Dennis took pity on the college student who still needed to earn money and introduced her to the director of horticulture and grounds. “Chris Schenkel thankfully hired me for the rest of the summer. Now I’m lugging heavy hoses and bags of mulch all over the park. It was hard work, and I’m working with a bunch of hardline old-timers who had a very precise and specific way of doing things. I loved every minute of it,” Denise remembers with a warm smile.
It comes as no surprise that Denise achieved her goal and graduated in December 1990 with a degree in political science with a criminal justice minor. Law school at West Virginia University didn’t start until August 1991, so Denise went back to Oglebay and asked if she could work in the greenhouses again.
She spent that winter and spring learning everything she could from the experts – from seed germination to planting flower beds all around the Hilltop. At the end of her first year of law school, other law students were applying for clerking jobs at law firms. However, Denise wanted to go back to Oglebay. Dave Holloway, the then vice president of human resources,
hired Denise to help the Wheeling Park Commission comply with the newly enacted Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Denise’s new job had her meeting with and interviewing all the department heads throughout the park system and rewriting or creating new job descriptions that made appropriate accommodations to ensure the park’s hiring practices complied with the new law.
“I would come to work all dressed up for my interviews and meetings, but I ate every lunch with my friends on the horticulture and grounds team.”
Today, Denise is the managing partner of Dinsmore & Shohl’s Wheeling office, one of the firm’s offices around the country, focusing her practice on commercial litigation law. “I’ve had a wonderfully symbiotic relationship with Oglebay. The park took chances with me and gave me so many opportunities to break out of my comfort zone. I was blessed to be able to accept these opportunities and, as a result, the park and its people taught me so much. I know it’s said all the time, but Oglebay is truly a gem; it gives so much to the community in very tangible ways.”
As a true lover and user of the park, Denise’s favorite spot in the park is a bench below the Garden Bistro. She walks the arboretum trails regularly “following the red brick path, past Bambi and down to Schenk Lake” bragging to anyone who will listen, “I used to plant these flower beds.”
Denise has named the Oglebay Foundation as a beneficiary of her estate to give back to the park that helped her get her start and that continues to give her so much.
The Hobbs Family
The Hobbs Family
Landy, Marty and Ward Hobbs grew up in Shawnee Hills. Through lifetimes of summer camps, tennis, swimming, golf and early employment at Oglebay and Wheeling Park, the siblings developed an affinity for the parks that continues to this day.
As the children of the late Ron and Sally Hobbs, their Oglebay connections were pretty much preordained.
Sally was an accomplished equestrian, tennis player and skier. She was involved in Oglebay’s theater, music and cultural offerings. Sally and the three kids performed in many summer musicals in the amphitheater with dad cheering them on.
Ron’s affinity for the parks is better known as one of the longest-serving Wheeling Park Commissioners – for more than 41 years.
Eldest child Landy remembers, “As kids, we all had pool and tennis passes. Mom would drop us off in the park at 8 am with some money in our pockets for a hotdog lunch. We played tennis all day, swam in the afternoon. We knew to be ready to go at a certain time. Sometimes dad picked us up on his way home from work, sometimes we got rides from neighbors and we even walked a couple of times.”
All three identified a first summer job in the park, employment their dad probably had a hand in behind the scenes. Landy worked on construction projects at the Good Zoo, Marty worked at the tennis courts and Ward spent at least one summer painting the Mansion. These early jobs “taught us skills to have pride in our work, establishing a strong work ethic” that has served them all throughout their lives.
Ron’s incredible legacy (see page 14) as a Wheeling citizen, for which being a Park Commissioner was just one aspect, shaped Landy, Marty and Ward’s appreciation of and love for community. They lost Sally in 2016. When Ron passed away last May, the siblings knew they wanted to do something to honor the memory of their dad, but they weren’t sure what.
“Dad wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted his name on a building. He never sought that kind of recognition. When Marty, Ward and I started talking about honoring Dad we all wanted to do something that was important to him. We remember him saying, ‘Most people put their name on stuff without considering how it’s going to be maintained. No one gives money for maintenance, it’s not sexy.’ With this thought, the idea of the maintenance fund began to take shape,” Landy shared.
Bob & Amy Mead
Having grown up in Wheeling, their paths crossed a number of times. Amy Stauffer and Bob Mead didn’t know each other then, but both attended Oglebay summer day camps during their grammar school years. On October 7, 2021, Bob and Amy celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at the Pine Room with family and friends. In honor of this long history the family is making gifts to renovate and endow Speidel Cottage #4. Thanks to the family’s generosity and love of Oglebay, the Speidel Cottage is now the newly renovated Mead Cottage– a great romance indeed. Read more here.
C.J. & Debbie Kaiser
In 2020, Debbie and C.J. saw firsthand the challenges pandemic related closures were having on the park and decided to make a generous donation using IRA funds. The gift was used in part for a matching campaign that raised $715,000 to support Trees and Trails, the Good Zoo and Gardens – a great fit for the couple’s interest and use of the park. The Kaisers continue to support the park in many ways… talk about making a difference! Read more here.
The Keefer Family established a fund to support the walking trails in Susanne Keefer’s memory. Jay continues to fund tree removal and planting in the park that has meant so much to him during his lifetime through annual gifts to the Oglebay Foundation. He has also made estate plans to support the park’s trees, which will continue to provide for all of us for generations to come. What a gift indeed. Read more here.
Realizing the important role sports has played throughout his life, Carl decided to fund youth tennis and golf activities at Oglebay and Wheeling Park with an IRA Charitable Rollover. Carl has also included the Foundation in his estate to support the lifetime sports that have shaped his life. Read more here.
Bloch Memorial Golf Course (Stuart F. Bloch)
Local business man, Stuart Bloch left a portion of his retirement savings to preserve affordable golf at Wheeling Park, ensuring the game of a lifetime will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Oglebay’s Historic Pergola on the Hilltop (Bill Bushfield)
Bill Bushfield named the Oglebay Foundation as the beneficiary of his retirement account to honor his mother and father. The funds rebuilt the pergola and created a legacy endowing its maintenance in perpetuity. (“The Power of Friendship: Refurbishing Oglebay’s Historic Pergola,” The American Ideal, Vol 1 Issue 2, Spring 2019)
The Dalby Gates (Doug Dalby)
Upon his retirement as Wheeling Park Commission President & CEO the gates in Mansion Woods were named for Doug Dalby’s years of service. Doug makes annual gifts to the foundation and has planned an estate gift to create an endowment for the gates’ ongoing maintenance.
“Miss West Virginia” Sculpture (Sue Seibert Farnsworth)
Wheeling Park Commissioner and Oglebay Foundation founding board member, Sue Seibert Farnsworth donated a fully funded, whole-life insurance policy to fund the Garden Works Sculpture Exhibit and the purchase of the stainless steel heron ˝Miss West Virginia˝ perched in the tree outside the Foundation office.
Wheeling Golf (Pidge Fleming)
Wheeling native Pidge Fleming is the daughter of Robert and Gene Biery. Her father was one of the Wheeling Park Commission’s first fulltime employees. The family spent their early years in Shepherd’s Cottage, just above the Crispin Course’s first tee. Today, at 87 years young, Pidge remains active in both the Women’s Golf Associations for Oglebay and Wheeling Park and plays up to four times a week. Pidge has included the Oglebay Foundation as a beneficiary of her estate. “Oglebay’s always been good to me. I’ve lived here all my life. It is an honor to have the opportunity to give back.” Read more here.
Platform Tennis Courts (Chris Freeman)
Wheeling native and U.S. Navy veteran Chris Freeman is using a donor advised fund at Raymond James Financial Services to invest in platform tennis. When asked about his generous donation Freeman shared, “Forty years ago a group of platform tennis enthusiasts built the courts at Oglebay. While they have long since stopped playing, many of us continue to benefit from their generosity and enjoy the opportunity to play this sport. Now, it’s time for me to step up and pass it forward so this sport is here for future generations.”
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.
Hickman Lounge (Louise Gaspar)
School teacher Louise Gaspar (“A Sense of Place: Oglebay’s Holiday Lady,” The American Ideal, Vol 1 Issue 1, Winter 2019) made a bequest to the Oglebay Foundation which was used in part to renovate Wilson Lodge’s Hickman Lounge.
The Good Zoo (Helen Prince)
Wheeling native Helen Prince demonstrated her love of children, music and animals with the creation of the Helen J. Prince Foundation. During her lifetime, Ms. Prince donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the Good Zoo. Her foundation is funding the new Red River Hog Habitat.
Wheeling Park Pool (Doug Wayt)
For 42 years, Doug Wayt has been swimming laps in Wheeling Park’s pool every morning between Memorial and Labor Days. He and his wife Susanna are using IRA distributions to fund investments to help maintain the pool they love.
Randy and Betty Worls
Earl Oglebay lived on Waddington Farm for 27 years. Betty and Randy Worls have been here for 67 years. They’ve committed their entire lives to this place. They met in the Park, married and raised their sons here; they built their lives here.