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Benton County Historical Society

ABOUT US

Benton County Historical Society

ABOUT US

Our vision is to create engaging and inspiring museum experiences in history, art, technology and culture for everyone.

The Benton County Historical Society operates the Corvallis Museum and the Philomath Museum for the preservation of history and culture and to enrich people’s lives through exhibitions and educational programs.

The Museums

Enrich people’s lives through exhibitions and educational programs.

Corvallis Museum

THE CORVALLIS MUSEUM…

…opened in 2021 in a new LEED-certified building designed by Allied Works Architecture. Permanent and rotating exhibitions showcase our collection of over 140,000 objects which includes regional artifacts and art as well as international objects and natural history specimens from the former Horner Museum at Oregon State University. We also have a Museum Store and spaces available for rent.

corvallis-museum
Philomath Museum

THE PHILOMATH MUSUEM

Our home since 1980, the historic 1867 Philomath College Building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has two galleries with rotating exhibitions of art and history, a research library open by appointment, and a small Museum Store.

Philomath Museum

The Future

A New Vision for the Benton County Historical Society

2022 has been a year of introspection for BCHS, with a goal of charting the best path forward for the organization. We participated in the American Alliance of Museums’ Museum Assessment Program, and began a new strategic planning process. We also have written a new mission statement to better guide the organization. Exciting things are coming- stay tuned!

Staff

We strive to meet the highest standards of the museum profession.

Mary Gallagher

COLLECTIONS MANAGER

Jessica Hougen

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Patti Larkin

Curator of Education

Peggy Lee

FINANCIAL COORDINATOR

Peter Lee

Maintenance Supervisor

Rachael Oehler

MUSEUM STORE MANAGER

Terri Thomas

MEMBERSHIP & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Coordinator

Mark Tolonen

CURATOR OF EXHIBITIONS

We are committed to preserving important cultural resources.

Leadership

Kelly Gallagher

President
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2019
“Knowing, sharing and preserving history is vital to any community and I feel strongly of its importance here in Benton County." ...

Career Profile: BA in Business Administration from Oregon State University 2001
Operations Associate for Smith Barney 2001-2003
Financial Advisor for Smith Barney 2003-2008
Financial Advisor for RBC Wealth Management 2008-2020
Financial Advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors in Corvallis – Current

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Secretary for the Good Samaritan Hospital Board
Secretary for the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board
Member of Corvallis Rotary After 5
Committee Member for the Corvallis Half Marathon
Crescent Valley Boys Head Golf Coach

Why are you serving as a Trustee?
“Knowing, sharing and preserving history is vital to any community and I feel strongly of its importance here in Benton County. I am excited to be a part of an organization that helps to enrich and share with those in and beyond our community the importance of our local history for generations to come.”

Janet Nishihara

Vice President
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2016
"Because I am interested in both learning more about the history of our region and in seeing the development of our understanding of the roles that people of color played in our history. ..."

Career profile: Oregon State University Educational Opportunities Program Director, supporting first-generation, low-income students, students of color and other underserved populations. Taught courses that develop a deeper understanding of the history of students of color at Oregon State University and in Oregon.
Serving at OSU since 1981.

Community/Professional Affiliations:
NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
AAC&U-Association of American Colleges & Universities
Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs – former member
CARDV, Friends of the Library

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“Because I am interested in both learning more about the history of our region and in seeing the development of our understanding of the roles that people of color played in our history. I would like to see if there are ways for groups to collaborate even further in re-discovering this information and providing access to it by the public at large.”

Susan Klinkhammer

Secretary
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2019
"I’m hoping to help continue the fine work of the Benton County Historical Society. I’m sure I will learn a lot and hopefully be able to share my knowledge with the community."

Career Profile: Elementary and Middle School teacher and reading specialist

Community/Professional Affiliations: OSU Folk Club and OSU Folk Club Thrift Shop

Why are you serving as a Trustee?
“I’m hoping to help continue the fine work of the Benton County Historical Society. I’m sure I will learn a lot and hopefully be able to share my knowledge with the community.”

Cody Hull

Treasurer
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2021
"I was born and raised here in Benton County and am a fifth generation Oregonian. ..."

Career Profile:
Western Oregon University Monmouth, Oregon.
*Bachelor of Science Degree Major History, Minor Geography.
Class of 2000.
David Hull Tree Farms Bellfountain, Oregon.
*Assistant Timber, Lands & Operations Manager 2003-present.
Oregon Secretary of State; Archives Division Salem, Oregon
*Historic Document Processor and Microfilm Technician 2000-2002.
Oregon Secretary of State; Archives Division Salem, Oregon
*Student Intern Summer, 1999.

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Benton County Historical Resources Commission
*Commission Member, 2010 – Present
Oregon Logging Conference Eugene, Oregon
*Active volunteer every year at the three-day conference
Pacific Northwest Truck Museum Brooks, Oregon
*Active member and volunteer.
American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) Kansas City, Missouri
*Semi-active member and volunteer.
Muddy Creek Charter School Inavale, Oregon
*Volunteer, groundskeeper/maintenance 2009-2015.

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I was born and raised here in Benton County and am a fifth generation Oregonian. My
family has been here in Oregon in either Linn or Benton Counties since 1852. Our family’s
deep roots in our community, plus my deep love and appreciation of history, will help me
serve as a Trustee and continue the mission and goals of the Benton County Historical
Society.”

The quest to learn history never stops. The Benton County Historical Society’s mission to
preserve our local history and culture will make it a gem of our community, and I am proud to
be a part of it.

Ronald Marek

Past President/Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2018
“I’m interested in providing inspirational opportunities for youth, the greater Corvallis community, and visitors." ...

Prior board service 1997-2002 (former Board President 1999-2000)

Career Profile: United States Federal District Court 1969-present; Oregon Bar Association 1969-present; Arbitrator, Portland Arbitration Service; Benton County Bar Association 1972-present; General Law practice, Corvallis, Oregon-practice emphasis: trust, estate, probate, charitable planning, medical planning 1998-present.

Iowa State University B.S., University of Minnesota, J.D.

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Corvallis Chamber of Commerce (President 1992-93)
Corvallis United Methodist Foundation (President, Secretary)
Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation
Heart of the Valley Choir Trustee
Rotary Club of Greater Corvallis
Sunset Kiwanis Club

Why are you serving as a Trustee?
“I’m interested in providing inspirational opportunities for youth, the greater Corvallis community, and visitors. I enjoy history and the development of devices created by humans to make things easier or more interesting.”

Wendy A. Beck-Nichols

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2019
"I am a Corvallis native and I want to support my community."

Career Profile: Worked for 18 years at Blackledge Furniture, after working 8 years at Rice’s Pharmacy. Currently owns Corvallis Floor Covering and is an interior designer.

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Business member of the Assistance League; Chamber of Commerce; ASID and IDS Interior Design Associations.

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I am a Corvallis native and I want to support my community.”

Lorna Avery Scott

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2019

Shirley Wirth

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2019
"I was born in Corvallis and have lived most of my life here. ..."

Career Profile: 1963 BS, Elementary Education, Oregon State University
1987 MS, Oregon State University
1975-1999 Elementary School Teacher, Corvallis School District 509J

Community/Professional Affiliations:
The Arts Center, Board Member 2000-2006
Vistas & Vineyard Plein Air Painting group, 1995 – present

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I was born in Corvallis and have lived most of my life here.  I vividly remember going to the Horner Museum as a youngster, and later taking my 5th grade classes there on field trips.  I feel honored to serve as a Trustee and help enlarge this tremendous historical, educational, and cultural resource in our community.”

Chick Gerke

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2020
"I have an interest in museums, building facilities, art, and historic preservation."

Career Profile: Retired Architect

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Corvallis Planning Commission: Commissioner 1992-2000
Corvallis Historic Resources Commission: Commissioner 2006-2009
San Joaquin Pioneer Museum and Gallery, Stockton, CA: Museum Preparator 1972-73

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I have an interest in museums, building facilities, art, and historic preservation.”

Mary Brauti

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2021

Larry Landis

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2021
"I have been a member of BCHS for nearly 30 years and have witnessed it develop into one of the most robust and highly regarded local historical societies in Oregon. ..."

Career Profile:
I retired from Oregon State University on July 1, 2020 after having worked as an archivist there for nearly 30 year – assistant university archivist (1991-1996); university archivist (1996-2011); and director of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (2011-2020). Prior to OSU, I was the photographs archivist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Barker Texas History Center (now the Briscoe Center for American History) from 1984 through 1990.

As part of my university archivist position, I also served as the consortium director for the Northwest Digital Archives (now Archives West, a program of the Orbis-Cascade Alliance) from 2002-2007. More recently I was part of the OSU150 team that developed the major 150th anniversary exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society. I am also the author of A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University, published in 2015 by the OSU Press and available at the Corvallis Museum store!

I currently have a courtesy faculty appointment with the OSU Libraries and Press and work on special projects, typically involving some aspect of university history and/or the history of local communities of color.

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Member of the Benton County Historical Society since 1992
Benton County Historic Resources Commission, 1996-2021 (chair, 2004-2021)
Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program Management Committee, 2005-present
Oregon Historical Society, member, 1992-present
Oregon Encyclopedia Editorial Board, 2006-present
Oregon Heritage Commission, advisory member representing the Oregon Higher Education
Coordinating Commission, October 2018-present
American Association of State and Local History, member, 2021-present
Northwest Archivists, member, 1991-present
Society of American Archivists, member, 1983-present
Academy of Certified Archivists, member, 1989-present

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I have been a member of BCHS for nearly 30 years and have witnessed it develop into one of the most robust and highly regarded local historical societies in Oregon. We are a vital community asset. I am at a point in my life where I can help the Society continue to develop and be even more impactful.”

Bond Starker

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2021
"Provide my perspective having a long-time family association with Benton County starting in 1907. ..."

Career Profile:
Corvallis High School -1965 Grad
OSU – Forest Management 1969 Grad
OSU – MBA program 1969-70
Bruce Starker Forestry 1962-1971
Starker Forests 1971-1981, Partner
Starker Forests, Inc
President & CEO 1981-2017
Chairman of Board 1981-2021
Chair Emeritus 2021-present

Community/Professional Affiliations:
Corvallis Chamber board 1983-2000?
Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development Partnership 1986- 2005?
Chamber Government Affairs committee 2000-2017?
OSU Foundation Trustee 2005-2017?
Oregon Forest Industries Council board 1987-2017
Benton County Budget Committee 1984-86?
OSU Forestry Education Council 2015- present
Old Mill School for Children and Families board 2005-2011?
Citizens Bank Board 1984-1986?
Sunset Research Park – Managing Partner 1984-1995?

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“Provide my perspective having a long-time family association with Benton County starting in 1907. Starker Forests is now a large forestland owner in Benton County. The Starker Forests Family has made significant contributions to both the Philomath facilities and the new Corvallis Museum.”

Joan Truckenbrod

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2021
"I am serving as a Trustee because the Museum embodies the pride and spirit of the community. ..."

Career Profile:
As an artist I began creating artwork by programming a mainframe
computer in Fortran, using mathematical equations to create drawings
and then textiles. These coded algorithmic drawings and textiles are in
collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, The Art
Institute of Chicago and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. My
artwork is exhibited internationally and is represented by RCM Galerie
in Paris. Currently, I am creating hand-woven digital Jacquard textiles.
Recently my artwork was exhibited in a one-person show at the
Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, and in a group exhibit at the RCM
Galerie in Paris, France. I have also exhibited in the Art Gallery at the
Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath.

I am Professor Emeritus at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In Corvallis I am the Director and Curator of the Truckenbrod Gallery,
creating exhibition opportunities for professional artists.
www.joantruckenbrod.com

Community/Professional Affiliations:
My community and professional affiliations include the OSU Art/Science
Steering Committee, and the Corvallis Artwalk Committee. I am
Director and Curator of the Truckenbrod Gallery. Previously I served on
the Board of COPI, Corvallis OSU Piano International, and the Arts
Advisory Board at OSU, which included sponsoring an Art and Science
Scholarship. I was also a member of the Corvallis Downtown Advisory
Board until Covid closed meetings. I am a member of a group of seven
professional artists that meet in individual artists’ studios to discuss
artworks. These artists are currently exhibiting at Truckenbrod Gallery.

Why did you join the BCHS board?
“I am serving as a Trustee because the Museum embodies the pride and
spirit of the community. It is the site of community identity; historically,
today, and in the future. The pioneering history of Benton County
creates an identity that strengthens community ties, particularly among
young people. Exhibits are innovative and unique, bringing new
perspectives and understanding to visitors, including a broad range of
students. This innovation is mirrored in the design of the Corvallis
museum building.

I am committed to supporting the Museum’s outreach to our diverse
community and educational groups. I am interested in the Museum
connecting with people and groups who are not familiar with the range
of exhibits and collections and exploring opportunities for them to visit
the museum. The Museum presents an inspiring combination of the
Arts in Benton County with the diverse dimensions of our history.”

Bill Blakney

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2023
I believe local historical societies and museums have a vital role to play in the betterment of our communities.

Career Profile: I am a retired environmental attorney. I worked for the Illinois Attorney General’s office in Chicago prior to moving to the Seattle area in about 1986. After working for three years in the Seattle Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I spent the rest of my career with the Civil Division of the King County, WA Prosecutor’s Office. I served as supervising attorney of the Natural Resources Section for about ten years until I retired in 2017. My wife, Diana, is also a retired attorney, and since she is originally from Corvallis and is part owner of timber property located near Philomath that has been in her family for over 100 years, moving to Corvallis upon retiring was an easy decision.

Community/Professional Affiliations: I am a member of the First United Methodist Church of Corvallis. I am a member of the board of the Marys River Watershed Council and currently serve as chair. My wife Diana is a member of the Benton County Small Woodlands Owners Association, and I regularly attend that organization’s meetings and timberland tours.

Why did you join the BCHS board? Three of the reasons that I joined are the following:

(1) Ron Marek asked that I consider applying.

(2) I have long been interested in, and perhaps fascinated by the history of our nation and its peoples.

(3) I believe local historical societies and museums have a vital role to play in the betterment of our communities.

Thomas Casey

Director
Year Appointed/Elected to the Board: 2023
Serving on the BCHS board allows me to stay actively engaged in the community and make a positive impact on preserving its history for future generations.

Year Joined the Board: 2023

Career Profile: Spent 20+ years coaching college football, four of which were spent coaching at Oregon State University.

In 2018 started my own real estate investment company C & H Property Group, focusing on residential single-family and multifamily investment properties.

Currently employed as a commercial real estate broker with Cadwell Real Estate Group. 

Hold the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation, held by less than 10% of all commercial real estate professionals.

1995 BS, History Oregon State University
1997 M.Ed Master of Education
Community/Professional Affiliations:

  • Board of Directors: Oregon/SW Washington CCIM Chapter 
  • Board of Directors: Mid-Willamette Family Valley YMCA
  • Committee Member: CCIM-Institute

Why did you join the BCHS board? My roots run deep in Corvallis and Benton County. I was born and raised in Corvallis and my parents were both raised in Corvallis. Serving on the BCHS board allows me to stay actively engaged in the community and make a positive impact on preserving its history for future generations.

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