Reserve to Honor Winnie Palmer

 Arnold Palmer has announced the impending acquisition of a 25-acre tract of property along Route 30 near Latrobe that he and his family envision transforming into environment-supporting parkland to be known as the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve.

The project will honor the memory and fulfill a vision of Mr. Palmer’s wife of 45 years, Winnie, who passed away in November 1999. It will be funded, established and operated through a non-profit corporation, organized under Pennsylvania law and approved for federal tax-exempt status [Section 501 (c) (3)] by the Internal Revenue Service.

Aware of Winnie Palmer’s long-standing desire to preserve the land and its sweeping vista across the valley to the Basilica and campus of Saint Vincent College, the Nakles and Boyle families, co-owners of the tract, offered to sell the property to Mr. Palmer. He and a group of his friends seized upon this opportunity to provide a recreational and educational facility that would serve the community and honor Mrs. Palmer.

This property, which lies just west of the Route 981 intersection, abuts land belonging to St. Vincent, which has indicated it will make available for lease or acquisition approximately 25 adjacent acres for use in the creation of the Reserve. Mrs. Palmer was a member of the Saint Vincent College Board of Directors.

“Winnie would be very pleased about this and with what we intend to create on this land,” said Mr. Palmer, who provided a major initial contribution to the Nature Reserve. He and David M. Roderick of Ligonier, retired chairman of USX, have begun a fund-raising effort with a goal of $6 million to fund the land acquisition and development of the Reserve in perpetuity.

With the valuable assistance of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a grant application has been filed with the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and additional funding is being sought on the federal level.

To quote its statement of purpose:

“The Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve will engage in educational activities intended to increase awareness and understanding of ecological concerns and challenges facing our natural environment.

“The Reserve will carry out this purpose by providing and improving land and facilities that will be open to the general public for hiking and recreation. With the assistance of Saint Vincent College, the Reserve’s land also will be used for the conduct of conservation and environmental education activities.”

In addition to its frontage on Route 30 and abutment to Saint Vincent land, the property is adjacent to the small community of Saint Vincent Shaft. Neither site planning nor clearing and improvement of the land is underway. But, it is anticipated that the Reserve will have entrances off Route 981 and the rerouted Fraser Purchase Road (Saint Vincent Drive) that now runs through the college campus in front of the Basilica, and will utilize an existing structure as a headquarters building.

Besides Mr. Palmer and Mr. Roderick, the Board of Trustees of the Nature Reserve consists of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer’s daughters, Mrs. Peggy Wears and Mrs. Amy Saunders; Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki; Attorney Richmond Ferguson, and Donald (Doc) Giffin, Mr. Palmer’s administrative assistant.

All inquiries about the Reserve and contributions to the organization are being directed to Mr. Giffin and/or Bob Demangone in Mr. Palmer’s local office – P. O. Box 52, Youngstown, PA 15696; 724 537-7751.

The map of the proposed reserve (right) shows its relationship to the Saint Vincent campus, as well as to the airport, Route 30, and Route 981. The dashed line is the proposed new Saint Vincent Drive, which will become the new entry road to the Saint Vincent campus.