If you traveled West 44th Avenue the afternoon of Saturday, May 25, you may have seen some sort of shindig at the Baugh House on the corner of 44th and Robb Street. It probably looked like a Historical Society event, common on Saturdays. WRHS hosted the event, but its purpose extended far beyond typical Baugh gatherings.
Around a hundred friends and relatives from all over the nation assembled to celebrate the life of Don Whetsel, a special man and a good friend of both the Historical Society and the city. Don passed away last November, but his family held off celebrating his life until summer made for easier travel. It’s been a while since most folks at the WRHS had seen him around. Health concerns, both physical and mental, had overtaken him, and he no longer could be the stalwart supporter he once was when he and his wife, Charlotte, were regulars at Society functions.
The WRHS was lucky to have this jack-of-all-trades among its active members. Whether it was cooking pancakes and sausage on the old Soddy stove to feed volunteers breakfast, or engineering a contraption out of an old tin sink to prewash apples before loading them into the press (which he also maintained) for October’s Cider Day, Don was always on hand. He especially enjoyed tinkering with mechanical devices and in 2018 inventoried and described all the antique tools and farm equipment in the Historical Park’s Implement Shed, then helped publish a pamphlet describing them.
During his retirement years, he also volunteered with the Parks and Rec Department where he worked tirelessly at Anderson and Prospect parks to keep them at their best. Both the city and the Society were fortunate to have been on the receiving end of his knowledge, skills and dependability.
Turning to other future events, the Historical Society is planning a fresh approach to its Member Appreciation-themed event at the Second Saturday Social planned for July 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year the celebration has been moved two blocks north of the Baugh House to the Historical Park where several of the museum buildings will be open and offer cool respite on a potentially hot summer day. Plan to attend the all-member meeting planned for 11 a.m. in the park.
Each museum will have a different activity to honor members and engage visitors. Board members will be on hand to distribute updated membership cards and buttons. Planned activities will allow members and visitors the opportunity to sit for a minute, enjoy a glass of lemonade or iced tea, and socialize. Games are also planned for those interested, with prizes for the winners and other favors. Community members, as well as dedicated (and very busy!) volunteers who have supported the efforts of the WRHS year after year with dollars and time are certainly worthy of celebration.