FAIRBORN — Linda Black-Kurek only recently made her first visit to Wright State University’s Special Collections and Archives. The 1978 Wright State graduate admits she was somewhat overcome by the volumes of photographs, letters, journals and other historic treasures on hand.
“It was just a little bit overwhelming, but it was so interesting,” she recalled. “I was really amazed.”
From the largest collection of Wright brothers materials in the world to the unique and unusual, like the handcuffs Dayton police used to arrest famed gangster John Dillinger, Black-Kurek enjoyed exploring all that the archives have to offer.
Amid the photos of the Wright brothers’ historic first flight, Black-Kurek also saw a need. She witnessed cramped quarters with barely enough space for staff and volunteers to go about their daily work. She observed shelf after shelf bursting at the seams with boxes full of Dayton’s history.
Then she saw the dream of what could be. Black-Kurek toured the home of the proposed Wright State University Archives Center — 30,000 square feet of vacant space at 2455 Presidential Drive, located directly across from Wright State’s Dayton Campus.
“They’re not even comparable at all,” Black-Kurek said of the current and future locations of the archives. “The new space will be wonderful.”
Immediately following both tours, Black-Kurek decided she wanted to do her part to help make the Wright State University Archives Center a reality.
“Wright State is one of those institutions that means a lot to me and the community,” said Black-Kurek, who graduated from Wright State with degrees in accounting communication studies. “I saw this as a good area where my family foundation could get involved.”
The Linda Black-Kurek Family Foundation was founded in 2015 after Black-Kurek’s company, Liberty Health Care Corporation, sold 15 long-term care facilities throughout the state of Ohio.
“My vision for the foundation is to help the Dayton community,” said Black-Kurek, who is especially passionate about making a difference for the region’s youth.
She serves as chair of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and vice chair of the Board of Trustees for Dayton Children’s. She also recently joined the Board of Trustees at the Dayton Art Institute.
Black-Kurek is also committed to helping students at her alma mater, where she serves on the Wright State University Foundation Board of Trustees.
“Supporting Wright State overall is important for the community. Wright State is a critical learning institution for us,” she said. “Part of that is preserving Dayton’s history and history overall. I think that’s what the Archives project does. It’s important for us to step up and save our history.”
In appreciation of Black-Kurek’s gift to Discover Your Story: The Campaign for the Wright State University Archives Center, the exhibit gallery in the new space will be named the Linda Black-Kurek Family Foundation Exhibit Gallery where rotating exhibitions will showcase the depth and breadth of the collections.
“I think it will be a nice introduction to the Archives for the community,” said Black-Kurek. “They’ll appreciate the Archives a lot more by looking through the exhibit gallery.”