Meridith Beck loved her lakeside community of Port Clinton and protected it with passion and energy. Her neighbors and the greater community of environmentalists have lost a champion with her recent passing at the age of 82, but her life is evidence that one person with a vision can make a big difference.
After a career in public health, Meridith and her husband, Bill, retired in 1994 to the home they built in Port Clinton. That’s when her advocacy for the environment became a full-time mission.
She was eager to protect land on Catawba Island to share the outdoor lakeshore experiences she had had growing up. But there was no park district that could lead the effort. So, she helped make one. She rallied friends and the community to organize the Catawba Island Park Board and helped direct its mission for ten fruitful years. During her tenure, she was the catalyst for creating the Cedar Meadow Nature Preserve. It was Meridith who first reached out to the Black Swamp Conservancy to explore ways to protect the 62-acre parcel. It was, at the time of purchase in 2005, the largest remaining parcel of land available for preservation on Catawba. The Conservancy worked with Meridith and the Catawba Island Township to find, apply for, and win the grants needed for the township to purchase the land.
She had a vision for the new preserve and made it happen. She did not want the natural habitats to become ball fields or host a lot of buildings, so she vigorously advocated to keep any development required for public access very light and unobtrusive. Her vision resulted in a naturally diverse area of forest, meadow, and wetland that shelters migrating birds, is home to shorebirds and raptors, and provides habitat for toads and frogs, mammals, and pollinators of all kinds. She got her hands dirty, too. Well into her 70s, Meridith could be found out in the preserve pulling invasive garlic mustard and cutting down honeysuckle. For a mild-mannered person, Meridith could be quite persuasive. If you were a friend or neighbor, you were probably wrangled into joining her for fieldwork.
We are awed by people like Meridith who live their passions in their everyday life. And we are honored to help her continue her service after her death.
Meridith left a generous gift to the Conservancy in her final estate plans that is allowing us to tackle some much-needed deferred maintenance. This includes replacing some old and obsolete computer equipment, upgrading some land management tools and running electric service to our barn so that the crew can fully utilize it as a work area. We’ve also invested some of the gift in our operational endowment fund, ensuring that Meridith’s legacy will strengthen the perpetual promises that Black Swamp Conservancy makes to protect our land and water resources forever.
We hope that more of our supporters will consider investing in the future of northwest Ohio with a planned gift to the Conservancy. It is one of the most effective ways to support conservation now and in the future.
Meridith made a cash donation, but your planned gift can take many other forms, such as a direct gift of land, stocks or other assets. Whatever form your planned gift takes, it will create a legacy for you and your family that supports healthy habitat and clean water forever.
Now is the Best Time
It’s never too early to start your estate planning. Contact your financial and legal advisors to learn more about planned giving strategies that could provide your family with income and tax benefits during your lifetime. Start your research at blackswamp.org/plan, then contact Executive Director Rob Krain at [email protected] or 419-833-1025 to discuss options that interest you.
Thank you again for all you do to protect our land and water in northwest Ohio, today and for future generations.