A series of articles recounting the history of the
Stratford Ecological Center and the Warner family.
Written by Louise Warner, Co-Founder
Dedicated to the Memory of Gale Warner
Did you know that Gale’s Delaware County roots run deep?
Her great‐great‐great grandfather was an important player in the development of the Village of Stratford. He was Judge Hosea Williams, a merchant, Delaware County Commissioner and the first President of the Delaware County branch of the State Bank of Ohio, which later became the Delaware County National Bank. He established the Williams Opera House…
Continuing with the Story of Gale’s Delaware County Roots
Last month, we described the role of Gale’s great‐great‐great grandfather, Judge Hosea Williams, in shaping the development of the Village of Stratford south of the city of Delaware. Hosea’s wife, Charlotte Avery Williams, had a brother, Judge Frederick Avery, who was an active promoter of the Underground Railroad in Delaware, OH. His home became a secret station for fugitive slaves.
On Gale’s mother’s side, all four of her great‐grandparents either studied or lived in Delaware County! This issue will cover her mother’s maternal grandparents.
Gale’s great‐grandfather, Fred Palmer Hills, was the son of Chauncy Hills and grandson of Judge Hosea
Williams, mentioned in previous legacy articles. Seven of Fred’s ancestors were passengers on
the original Mayflower voyage.
Although not born in Delaware County, the paternal grandparents of Gale’s mother met each other while students at Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU).
Elmer Samuel (E.S.) Oman was reared in Pickaway County, Walnut Township, with eight siblings. He loved poetry and literature from an early age. E.S. worked on a farm near Ashville, OH, and taught school for 2 years before attending college at OWU.
Gale’s maternal grandmother, Mary Caroline Hills Oman, was born at 120 N. Washington St., Delaware, OH. She was the daughter of Fred and Mary Florence Hills (pictures of her parents and the family home were featured in a previous article). Mary Caroline was schooled at North Elementary and graduated from Delaware (later called Willis) High School in 1915. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts…
Although neither of Gale’s parents lived in Delaware County, there were strong ties through her mother, Louise Oman Warner. Born in 1930, Louise was reared and schooled in Clintonville (north Columbus). Her parents were Mary Caroline Hills Oman and Galen Francis Oman (see last month’s Legacy Series article). When Louise was a youngster, a weekly weekend trip to Delaware – via Model‐A Ford (in the rumble seat) or the interurban railway…
Gale Lynne Warner, named after her grandfather Galen, was born on June 7, 1960, in Columbus, OH. She was a joyful child, curious, and always engaged with Nature. In 1966, the family (parents Drs. Louise and Jack Warner, brother David, and Gale) moved to a country home on prime farmland in Pickaway County, Ohio. Gale’s favorite place was a glade in the 8‐acre woods behind the house. There, she would sit on a fallen log amid woodland wildflowers (and poison ivy) and write in her journal.
Gale entered Stanford University in Sept. 1978 as a biological science major with a research focus. She soon realized that field research was not for her, and concentrated on honing her writing and photography skills; as always, her main subjects were nature‐related. The topic of her senior honors thesis was the evolution of thinking that shaped the “new” environmental ethic in the United States…
Following an internship at Hidden Villa in 1983, Gale joined her soul mate, a freshman medical student at Harvard Medical School in Boston. David Kreger had been a Stanford student and was already heavily involved in the environmental movement – having been mentored by David Brower, who is recognized as a father of the modern environmental movement.
Gale and David Kreger were married in 1987, and continued their efforts to end the Cold War by organizing a series of cooperative initiatives between American and Soviet citizens. In order to write a report on a Soviet grassroots effort to stop nu-clear testing, Gale managed to slip through Soviet checkpoints in 1989 to visit a “hot” nuclear underground test site in Kazakhstan.
Gale’s family, with her input, decided to rename the project “The Stratford Ecological Center” (SEC), to honor the small Village of Stratford and the family history associated with the Village. Since the proposed goals emphasized the relationship between living things and their environment (the definition of ecology), Gale had proposed the word “ecological.” The Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Ohio in October 1990, and Stratford was on its way!
During Gale’s final days, when her parents asked how they could possibly continue developing Stratford without her, she confidently answered: “You can do it; I know you can.”
And so they did. The mission of Stratford – crafted from the three goals Gale proposed in 1986 – was now on target: teaching children where their food and fiber come from, and reconnecting them to the awesome wonders of the natural world.