2012: William Straker
J. William Straker Honored with the 2012 Dick Johnson Award
Bill Straker, his wife Mary Helen Straker, and their children have positively affected the lives of all residents of Muskingum County. The J. W. and M. H. Straker Charitable Foundation, established in 1994 and led by Susan Straker Holdren, has given $1.6 million to capital improvement projects in our community.
The Muskingum County Community Foundation has benefited greatly from the Straker family. The Strakers established a family fund and lease (at no cost) the Community Foundation its building. The Community Foundation took on a new role with Bill Straker's creation of the Scholarship Central program that has enabled thousands of students with local scholarship opportunities, helped families obtain grants and loans, and has promoted the expectation of attendance at college to the residents of Zanesville and Muskingum County.
The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" comes to mind when thinking of the Bedford-Falls-effect the Bill Straker family has had upon the Zanesville area. It is only that Bill Straker is award-averse that has delayed recognition of his extraordinary career. Bill Straker's success in business gave him the opportunity to encourage the sparking of human potential through his philanthropy. The tradition of leadership in philanthropy continues into the next generations of four children, six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and two great granddaughters.
The award recognizes the achievements of the recipients, honors the leadership of Dick Johnson, and encourages others to strive to be future recipients. To be eligible for the award, an individual must be an outstanding entrepreneur, a civic leader, and a philanthropist who has had a positive effect upon Muskingum County.