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Dietrich Family’s Legacy is One of Giving Back to the Community

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Reading, Pennsylvania.


As I was scrolling through Facebook recently, I was reminded of the impact a legacy can leave on a community.  Have you ever wondered what your legacy will be?  What will people remember about you after you are gone?  What can you do now that will have a lasting impact on generations to come?

One of my childhood memories is visiting a farm in Muhlenberg Township.  I remember going there with my grandparents in our old, red, Ford farm truck, Big Red as we used to call it.  We’d head down a dusty gravel driveway to a large farmhouse and barn surrounded by orchards and fields.

Out of nowhere, Faye and her husband, Douglass, would appear to greet us.  Faye usually offered something scrumptious from her kitchen, made from apples, peaches or corn grown on their land. Douglass would hang on the side of the Ford window trading farming stories with my grandpa.

Into my late teens, I still visited.  My visits were usually to take advantage of Friday night fishing off the dock behind their farmhouse and watch the boaters and water skiers.  Faye and Douglass never seemed to mind the late night headlights and told us we were welcome to come anytime.

There was always one thing I wondered about Faye and Douglass, and that was the tragic story about their son.  Apparently he died at age 19 in an industrial accident nearby.  He would have been about the same age as my uncle, so growing up I would often contemplate what their son might look like or be if he were alive.  I never asked about the story, I just knew it happened.

Fast forward to now.  The lane still leads back to that same farmhouse, although the lane is widened and paved and the property is called Jim Dietrich Park, named after their teenage son who died so young.  Faye and Douglass were old-fashioned, and they never wanted to see their farmland develop into housing, so Faye decided, true to her character, that she’d rather have it as a place for others to enjoy, even those outside their traditional farming circle.

Apparently she made a deal with Muhlenberg Township that would allow for the township to buy her property while she continued to live there.  According to a Reading Eagle article in June 2011, past Muhlenberg Township Parks Director Neal D. McNutt commented that he literally had a file that said “Faye Dietrich’s Wish List,” which included ideas on her vision for the park and her request that the park be named after her only son, Jim.

Reading the Google reviews online, I know Faye would indeed be happy.

Michael Shade, a recent park visitor said, “Had an amazing time and a lifetime of memories with loved ones.”

Lorri Brynan, another visitor, summed it up beautifully in her review that said: “This park is truly a special place.  We utilize the park all the time and appreciate this quiet, natural place.”

There is absolutely no doubt that Faye and Douglass would be delighted to see all the families and children enjoying themselves on their farm … in the farm house, on the lawn and in the water.

Although Faye passed away in 2002, her legacy and that of her late husband, Douglass, and her son, Jim, will forever live on.

What foresight she had!  The generosity of the Dietrich family keeps on giving.  Now that is a legacy!

Jim Dietrich Park is located at 4899 Stoudt’s Ferry Bridge Road in Muhlenberg Township.  The park offers a dog park, basketball courts, pickleball courts, volleyball courts, and other amenities.  Events are regularly hosted on-site, including RiverFest.