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Beck bequest benefits Headwaters unit

By Mike Sever Record-Courier staff writer Published: August 21, 1997 12:00 AM

Beck, who died Nov. 10, 1996 at age 82, was instrumental in creating many branch banks in the county, including one in Garrettsville, and also served as a trustee of nearby Hiram College.

When Beck and his wife, Dorothy, returned to Ohio several years ago, they chose to relocate to Garrettsville.

Beck was also an avid hiker, walking 3 to 5 miles a day for the last 25 years of his life. Because of Beck's interests in both Garrettsville and hiking, Beck's family thought a gift to the Headwaters Trail would make a fitting memorial.

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Dorothy recalled that her husband delighted in his morning walk.

"He went from our house _ we lived about a mile out _ and walked all through the town," she said. "All the store people knew him as 'the walker' and they all waved at him and he talked to them. He enjoyed that." Dorothy said her husband was an avid golfer in addition to his penchant for long walks.

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"We wanted to do something" in his memory, she said, and the trail was an appropriate idea.

Robert Beck, son of the former bank president, said the trail was selected for several reasons. "It just sounded ideal. A lot of quality time we spent with my dad was walking and having long family talks," he said. "It was a very natural connection for us."

Park board member Virginia Shaw said the district is delighted with the gift.

"We've wanted to open the Headwaters Trail to the public for several years, but we haven't had enough money to develop it properly," she said. "When completed, the Garrettsville portion of the Headwaters Trail will be a permanent memorial to an outstanding citizen of Portage County," she said.

Currently under development by the Portage County Park District, the 7-mile Headwaters Trail winds through forest and wetlands and will connect village parks in Mantua and Garrettsville.

Work this summer and fall is focused on the eastern half of the trail. Along with many area volunteers, Beck's grandson, Jefferson, is working for the park district as trail manager for the eastern section. The district hopes to have the eastern half of the trail operational by October.

Next summer the district will focus on the western half of the trail. The district has applied for a $99,000 NatureWorks grant for the project. The whole trail could be open by October, 1998.

The Headwaters Land Trust has used the Beck family's donation to create a fund at the Huntington National Bank to hold additional community donations to the project. Those interested in making contributions, either financial or through volunteer work on the trail, may contact Shaw at 678-3663.

Although the Becks' donation has given the project a financial boost, they are by no means the first benefactors of the trail. Huntington, the Hiram Community Trust, Peter and Richard Cornelison, former park board member Charles English, the Headwaters Landtrust, the Friends of the Headwaters Trail and many others have made significant contributions in the past, along with countless volunteers who have donated their time and energy to make the trail a reality.

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