Far Hills Speaker Series

Presenting local history on Oakwood, Ohio, and the Dayton area

Join the Oakwood Historical Society and Wright Memorial Public Library for entertainment and education.  Whether you are a history buff or just interested in learning more about the place you live, the Far Hills Speaker Series has engaging stories for everyone.

Where and When?

2:00 - 3:00 PM
In person: Wright Library Community Room (seating limited to 80, first-come, first-seated)
Virtual: Live on Zoom. Registration required; Click on program to register for Zoom link.

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Fall 2024 Programs

Sitting at a table is American General Richard K. Sutherland signing a document declaring the end of WWII. A line of soldiers in uniform line the background.

Victory in the Pacific: Stories of Local Veterans and their role in WWII

Sunday, September 15, 2024 at 2 PM

Local author, Ken Serey, will share the firsthand accounts as told to him from Pacific Theater veterans. Their stories of endurance, survival, courage, and sacrifice were made in the name of our country and our freedom as they bravely served in the Pacific. Ken will share stories that might have gone undocumented but are now documented and can be shared for generations to come.

On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered on the decks of the USS Missouri ending World War II in the Pacific. Seventy-nine years later, firsthand accounts of Dayton-area veterans are documented and shared as their stories and the impact WW II made on their lives are becoming rare. About 119,000 WWII veterans are still alive today out of approximately 16 million men and women who served during WWII. But what is more shocking is how often we are losing these WW II veterans. It is estimated that each day, 131 of the remaining WWII veterans die. As we lose World War II veterans at a strikingly rapid rate their stories become even more precious. 

Ken SereyAbout the presenter: Ken Serey (Tipp City, Ohio) is the author of “What’s the Story: Dayton Veterans’ Stories” and has a longstanding involvement and commitment to veterans. The child of a World War II veteran, Serey has long had an interest in war stories. While working for Visual Tech Connection, which specializes in helping people with poor vision, Serey met seniors connected to the war as he traveled for work throughout Ohio. He realized their stories deserved to be written and preserved, so when he retired, he got to work. The veterans’ stories in “What’s the Story” are documented accounts and tell what it was like to be at war in the true sense. As Ken says, “It is very important to preserve these stories and to preserve this fading part of the historical record.”

Tombstones in Woodlawn Cemetery

Oakwood Notables in Woodland Cemetery

Sunday, October 20, 2024 at 2 PM

1841 brought about the establishment of Woodland Cemetery, located on the “out-skirts of Dayton.” Since then, Woodland Cemetery has become the final resting place for many Oakwood notables including John Patterson, the Wright Brothers, Colonel Edward Deeds, and many other well-known Oakwood citizens. Each of these individuals has had significant impact to our community and to the world. This presentation will highlight Oakwood notables interred in Woodland as well as provide a brief history of these individuals as we take a virtual tour of the cemetery.

David SchmidtAbout the presenter: David Schmidt has a passion for the local history of our region. He grew up in Kettering and has made multiple presentations to the Oakwood Historical Society. David has also researched, developed and teaches Oakwood 101, a comprehensive history of Oakwood through the Oakwood Historical Society. David earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Geological Sciences at The Ohio State University in 2006. In 1999 and 2001, respectively, he received a B.S. and M.S. from the Department of Geological Sciences at Wright State University. Dr. Schmidt serves WSU as its Director of Undergraduate Programs in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Brehm Lab. His teaching involves classes in Environmental Science and Society, Earth Systems, and Process Geomorphology.

Sepia-toned photograph of "Lucky" Eddie Breen

Lucky Eddie: The Life, Times and Family of Dayton US Congressman Edward G. Breen

Sunday, November 17, 2024 at 2 PM

The 2024 election has drawn to its historic conclusion. In that spirit, the life and times of former Dayton Mayor and U.S. Congressman Edward Grimes Breen is being shared by his son, Edward Focke Breen. Breen tells the astonishing story of one man, his father, and his family who went from hardworking immigrants to wealth and political power. It is a cultural history of America from the mid -19th through the mid-20th centuries. Breen retells stories of personal interactions his father had with luminaries such as Ohio Gov. James M. Cox, aviator Amelia Earhart, Presidents Warren Harding and Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, the youngest Miss America and other interesting historical and political figures of the times. Edward G. Breen lived a storied life. Edward Focke Breen is a born storyteller and has so many fascinating historical stories to share about political life in his father’s time.

Edward Breen About the presenter: Edward Focke Breen is the author of the book “Lucky Eddie: The Life, Times and Family of Former U.S. Congressman, Edward G. Breen.” Breen is an Ohio native and schoolteacher who has spent a lifetime traveling in Europe, North Africa, and the Americas. A graduate of Capital University who has done post-graduate work at Antioch University, he is married to Catherine Taylor, a writer and former magazine editor. They and their two sons live in Kettering, Ohio, and spend summers at their home in coastal Maine.