It was a crisp springtime day in 1998. A “feel good” vibe filled the air as 250 people gathered under a big white tent at Shaker Landing to witness the dedication of the Conservancy’s new Sally Brown Preserve, located in Kentucky’s Palisades region.
On this day, the Conservancy honored Sally Brown, a local conservationist who doggedly raised funds over several years so that some of the unique Palisades landscape could be purchased and protected forever. At this magnificent location at the bottom of a limestone gorge, friends, family, elected officials and community leaders enjoyed a picnic of barbecued chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, iced tea and lemon ice-box pie at tables decorated with bark baskets full of wildflowers. After lunch, guests ventured out into the soft spring sunshine to enjoy a ride along the Kentucky River on the steamboat the Dixie Belle. At the end of the day, adults received new preserve tee-shirts; children went home with cuddly teddy bears.
As the event came to a close, Jim Aldrich, director of stream and wetland restoration and the Conservancy’s state director in Kentucky at the time, felt a tug on his jacket from someone behind him. It was Dr. Richard Crutcher, a long-time member in Kentucky. While only an acquaintance, Jim knew him to be a shy, but direct man. On this day Dr. Crutcher had a specific request.
“He wondered what might be involved in creating a similar event as a gift to his wife in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary, which at that time, was a couple of years away,” says Aldrich.
The conversation evolved into a series of regular meetings to discuss options for assisting the Conservancy with a suitable conservation project that would mark the Crutchers’ occasion. They settled on helping the Conservancy acquire additional land in the Palisades, specifically two parcels adjacent to the Sally Brown preserve. They celebrated the dedication of the new Crutcher Preserve with family and friends on a crisp autumn day at Shaker Landing on October 17, 1999.
“As a family, we were thrilled, since we’d been raised with a love of nature and all things green,” shares the Crutcher’s daughter, Dottie Cordray.
According to Cordray, her father’s gesture served as a fitting tribute to his wife, who had devoted so much time to preserving historic homes and gardens in and around Lexington, including as a founding member of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation.
“In fact, The Nature Conservancy event continued an ongoing ethic of giving in our family. A few years later we marked my mother’s 80th birthday and 45th year with Lexington’s Garden Club by dedicating topiaries in the walled garden at Ashland.”