Tony Arnerich considered John Gray, who passed away in October of 2012, to be a close friend and mentor. In honor of John and his wife Betty, Tony is carrying forward a philanthropic project that was dear to their hearts. He is the Capital Campaign co-chair of the OMSI Outdoors Coastal Discovery Center. Carrying forward John’s vision, OMSI is planning to develop a 20-acre science camp and living laboratory with indoor teaching spaces at the Oregon Coast in Newport. Before his passing, John worked with OMSI to identify the location, and then purchased and donated the land for the project.
“John was a generous supporter of OMSI Outdoors and Classes, and often said that every child should have a camp experience,” campaign materials explain. “His appreciation for outdoor experiences at the coast was a motivating force in his contribution of the land, allowing OMSI to develop a year-round camp for all Oregonians to enjoy.” The vision is to create a year-round residential camp for children and families in which they can learn from professional educators about marine biology, ecology, and ocean observation. The camp will support up to 150 children and families at a time, and will serve over 5,000 people a year.
“I’m honored to be part of this project,” Tony says. “John Gray was a dear friend, and I cannot think of a better legacy to honor his memory.” The OMSI Outdoors Coastal Discovery Center is a $10 million project, of which $2.3 million has been contributed by Gray and initial investors. Tony and his co-chair, Christopher Hall, have their work cut out for them to help raise the additional $7.7 million needed to fund the project. But they are confident that they will do so, and that the OMSI Outdoors Coastal Discovery Center will open its doors to students and families in 2015.