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I have tried to begin this piece several times and after many false starts, I am determined to get it done today. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has been a friend for almost 30 years and, coincidentally, has contributed so much to the community.
But we must say farewell to Evelyn Welch, who is leaving at the end of this month to become the manager at William Whitley State Historic Site near Stanford.
When I first met her, she told me her name was Evelyn, that she was leaving behind her childhood nickname of “Tricky.” So for years, she was Evelyn to me. I think, however, when you stay in your hometown and you’ve always been known by your nickname, it’s a hard moniker to shake. I eventually gave into it and began calling her Tricky, too.
Tricky was a single mother raising two boys and working at M&T back then. Later, she would open a cute little gift shop across from the Carrollton Inn, when Bob Rice ran it. And then she was hired at what seemed like a dream job for her: curator of the Butler-Turpin State Historic House at General Butler State Resort Park.
I can barely remember any activities at the house before Evelyn took over — maybe a Christmas tour open house. But under her guidance, the Butler-Turpin House became a large presence in our community, with all kinds of enhancements to the home and grounds. Tricky immersed herself not only in the history of the Butler family, but also of the period during which William O., his father and brothers lived.
Contacting descendants of the Butlers and Turpins, she was able to add family pieces, documents, and portraits to the collection at the house. She trained tour guides, and in period dress, they welcome visitors. She became a practiced grant writer, able to bring in funding to install a new heating and air-conditioning system; beautiful period reproduction carpets and numerous other interior historic interpretations. She won grants to restore gravestones and erect the iron fence surrounding the small Butler cemetery. Gardens were planted, more original furnishings added, and of course, after much diligence, she acquired an oil portrait of Gen. William O. Butler, painted as he sat for it.
Summer encampments on the grounds of the Butler-Turpin House during the mid-1990s were always events for visitors to the park, students, and town folks to enjoy. Soldiers marched and sutlers peddled their wares. Appropriate music was played throughout the encampment. That may have been what gave her the idea for the Music in the Park series.
For 10 years, we have been attending wonderful musical performances on the lawn behind the house. Monthly, from May through October, tourists and locals have enjoyed the talents of men and women from our own county and all around these parts. When I would hear someone complain about having nothing to do here, I always asked, “Do you go up for Music in the Park?”
Students from Northern Kentucky and closer to home have come for visits to the house, participating in archaeological digs that have been conducted – also paid for with grants. My niece brought her daughter’s Brownie troop for a tour and dig, and I suspect they will never forget the experience. They found bits of pottery and other artifacts.
The Friends of Butler, organized by Tricky, began to work to assist her in making improvements in the property. The Christmas Tea and Open House has become an annual event, anticipated by all who have attended in the past.
But all of that is just a part of what Tricky has meant to this community. Also during the ’90s, she was an integral part the tourism production of “The Point in Time.” In addition to portraying several characters from our history, Tricky helped designing sets and costuming. When I chaired the first Blues to the Point, she was one of the first I called to serve on the committee. We had fabulous entrances to the festival, thanks to her sense of design and great talent for making something wonderful out of next to nothing.
Tricky has served with the Main Street program since its inception; she has contributed to the city by serving on the Board of Adjustments and Design Review Board. She is a past president of the Port William Historical Society and current co-chair of the Park to Trails project. She has directed numerous productions over the years for the Carrollton Players and for the Hoosier Theater in Vevay, Ind. She has also assisted with productions at the Carroll County High School over the years. I know that she is most proud of her work in getting the new auditorium at the middle school named in honor of former teacher Sam P. Simpson.
So the park will miss her, the community will feel the loss of her contributions. I will miss my friend with whom I have shared countless cups of coffee at Welch’s on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and who could always give me a decorating tip for my own home.
I know she will be doing great things at William Whitley; I can just see the old race track there being brought back to life and hear the music in the hills. She will take with her the cleverness, resourcefulness, and determination that have served her and us well over the years. I’m glad it won’t be so far that I can’t make the trip to see her work her wonders in a new place.
Jarrett Boyd is the retired director of Carroll County Public Library and resides in Carrollton.