Patio party

Pastor Kathy Bueker Sweet, Deborah Westjohn, Michael Westjohn and Allerton Park and Retreat Center Director Derek Peterson at a patio party at the park's Greenhouse Cafe on May 9, 2019.

Michael Westjohn is sure his father would have enjoyed every aspect of Allerton Park, from his love of the outdoors to his knowledge as a construction man.

“Dad was a builder. He would have wanted to see how that mansion held up all those slate tiles on that roof,” Westjohn told a patio party gathering at Allerton Park on May 9, where he dedicated a gift to the park in memory of his parents, the late Henry and Elizabeth Westjohn.

Westjohn's father built churches, post offices and bank buildings, but also liked the outdoors, hunting and fishing when he found the time. Elizabeth Westjohn prized her small flower garden.

The couple never made it to Allerton Park, but Michael Westjohn, now a Monticello resident and frequent park visitor, said they would have loved it.

“They would be impressed with the fu dogs, the mansion, the bulb garden, the hiking paths,” said Westjohn.

A gift from Michael and Deborah Westjohn helped upgrade the Greenhouse Cafe outdoor patio with a hard surface, landscaping and new furniture. An ongoing endowment will keep it in good repair.

The Westjohns worked with park officials to make the gift count, and for it to last.

“The Westjohns' passions shine through. I think that passion takes us to a new level at Allerton and we're so thankful for the gift, we're thankful for the relationship of course, and I am very thankful to both of you for the guidance and inspiration you've given me and the rest of the staff here at Allerton,” said Peterson.

Michael Westjohn said his sense of hard work and community was inspired by a childhood that featured strong parents and eight siblings.

“Each of us had jobs to do for the family, as well as part time jobs in the community to benefit the family. We were taught how to start a job, how to stick with it, and how to see it through to completion,” he said.

As for helping Allerton, it was an easy decision.

“We thank staff, who make Allerton Park a place of inspiration, healing, art, fun and comfort,” added Westjohn.

The two-hour patio party included the serving of food and drink, along with entertainment by Billy Galt.