Individuals honored by the Mac-A-Cheek Foundation


WEST LIBERTY — More than 60 people gathered at Piatt Castle Mac-A-Cheek near West Liberty on Saturday, May 13, as four individuals were honored with an oak tree, identified with their name, planted on the grounds surrounding the National Trust Historic Landmark.

This inaugural biannual event was titled, Acorn to Oak Tree Tributes. The board of directors of the Mac-A-Cheek Foundation for the Humanities (MFH) believes the accomplishments of these honorees, like oak trees, will be long lasting.

“The work of these four remarkable individuals has made significant contributions to the quality of life for all Ohioans,” David James, MFH Board president stated. “Their efforts are now recognized with a living tribute for generations of future visitors to Piatt Castle Mac-A Cheek”.

The first tree planted was an indigenous White Oak depicted on the MFH logo as a posthumous honor to Clermont Eugene (Gene) Park, member of Piqua Shawnee Tribe. Through his long association with the site, he served on the board of the Foundation, provided programs and shared insight into Shawnee cultural values, customs and language. He was honored as a Keeper of the Land.

The second honoree was architect Karen Beasley, of Bellefontaine, as Steward of Architecture for her work inspiring restoration of unique buildings including the Holland Theatre, and the design of new creative structures including the round Transportation building at the Logan County History Center. A Red Oak was planted in Beasley’s honor.

Representing the greater Miami Valley, Mary C. Mathews was honored as an Innovator of Public History with the planting of a Burr Oak. Matthews served as the Executive Director of Carillon Historical Park in Dayton for 18 years culminating in a 17-day living history festival called Time Flies as part of the a Century of Flight celebration in 2003. As a committee member who worked to create the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, authorized by Congress in 2004 Matthews has expanded public access to Dayton history.

The fourth honoree was Patricia Williamsen as champion of Humanities and Nature Studies. Trained as a photojournalist, Williamsen served in multiple positions for thirty-five years at the Ohio Humanities, retiring as executive director in 2021. She has visited every corner of Ohio, taking photographs, appreciating birds and other forms of wildlife, and encouraging all Ohioans to tell their stories. A Sawtooth Oak was planted in her honor.

Learn more about the work of the MFH at, or plan your visit to Castle Mac-A-Cheek, by visiting or by calling 937-465-2821. The site is open May 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend it will be open every day from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day weekend before returning to the weekend schedule through October.

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