Strolling through the decades

Sam Nonnamacher walks on the 4-mile Multipurpose Trail at Blacklick Woods. (Tina Fronk)

Blacklick Woods Metro Park opened 69 years ago, just as Sam Nonnamacher was settling back into civilian life. He served in World War II as a Marine and returned home to Columbus in 1946. When the park opened two years later, Sam went to check it out.

When he first started going to the park, it was for relaxation and a bit of exercise. However, when Sam’s first and second wives died of cancer, he found solace at Blacklick Woods each time. He could escape his grief for a while and enjoy the outdoors. He also found joy in chatting with other park visitors, a tradition that he continued over the years.

Sam has greeted many people on the trails since he first started walking in the park. It’s usually just a quick and friendly hello. “People do their walking and they say hi or they don’t. I just keep walking,” he said.

Sam walks every day the weather is nice – no rain and not too cold – and spends about three hours per day at the park, walking one to three miles on his favorite trail, the Multi-purpose Trail.

 

Sam Nonnamacher celebrates his 90th birthday at Blacklick Woods Nature Center. (Pam Klopfer)

Over the years, Sam has forged friendships with several visitors. He meets with them regularly to catch up and talk about things going on in their lives. Some of these friends recently threw him a 90th birthday party at the nature center, including several Blacklick Woods volunteers.

In addition to walking daily, Sam works out on equipment throughout the park as well. “I can walk, I can do pushups on the bar and I keep in shape for an old 90-year-old man,” he joked.

Blacklick Woods not only serves as a place of healing and exercise for Sam, but also a place full of happy memories with his family. Sam has two sons and a daughter and remembers taking them to the park. Going to the Blacklick Zoo was a special treat for them. “My favorite memory is of the animals at the zoo. I used to bring my first son out here and look at the deer and raccoons. It was incredible.”

Blacklick Woods will always have a special place in Sam’s heart. “I love this park,” he said. “The people here are nice and the park is great. I like the whole place.”

Five great things about Blacklick Woods

  1. The very first Metro Park, which opened in October 1948
  2. A terrific nature center with windows on wildlife
  3. Nesting barred owls and red-shouldered hawks in spring
  4. Blacklick Woods features two challenging golf courses
  5. Features a 54-acre state nature preserve, honoring first Metro Parks director, Walter A Tucker