BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — The Maumee community was dealt a double dose of sadness last week as two Maumee legends, each loved and respected for their kindness, loyalty and generosity toward their mutual hometown, passed away within 24 hours of each other.
George Chapman, 75, passed away peacefully in his home in Naples, Fla., on Wednesday, March 22 comforted by his family and close friends.
Just one day later, Jack Hiles, 73, passed away at McLaren St. Luke’s Hospital on Thursday, March 23. He had been in declining health since contracting the coronavirus in November of 2020 and was not feeling well in recent weeks.
Each man was raised in Maumee and both men shared a sense of gratitude and appreciation for their beloved hometown. It was important for each of them to give back to the community that treated them so well as they were growing up.
Mayor Richard Carr issued the following statement on behalf of the city of Maumee, paying homage to each man:
“Maumee has been fortunate to have two residents who for decades dedicated themselves to preserving the history of our city.
“Marty Wendler has recorded our history in many writings, and Jack Hiles assembled a collection of Maumee photographs, memorabilia and collectibles which told our story.
“Jack was a treasure for our city who may be impossible to replace. His collection of Maumee’s history will benefit future generations.
“George Chapman was a ‘Maumee kid’ who went on to realize great athletic success and business success.
“George remained a part of Maumee his entire life. He raised his family here and gave back to Maumee in so many ways.
“I believe George’s greatest legacy will be that he is remembered for having never forgotten where he came from,” Carr concluded.
Following is a brief summary of each of man’s life:
On May 18, 1947, George L. Chapman III was born to the former Betsy Idtse and George L. Chapman Jr.
He grew up on West Harrison Street, attended Union School and was a 1965 graduate of Maumee High School, where he excelled in both academics and sports.
Chapman earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his JD from The University of Chicago.
During the course of his career, Chapman spent time as a teacher and as a lawyer before serving in various executive positions at Health Care REIT, where he eventually became president and CEO. Under his leadership, Health Care REIT became one of the largest REITs in the world with a market value of several billion dollars. The firm was a giant in the Northwest Ohio business community.
Despite his fortune, Chapman never forgot his hometown roots and maintained a Maumee residence throughout his life.
He served on several boards in the greater Toledo area and was especially fond of his alma mater, leading the Panther Pride Foundation in a $1.2 million campaign to raise funds to remodel and expand Kazmaier Stadium. Chapman and fellow MHS alum Dr. James Chappuis each donated over $250,000 of their own money to the cause.
During the dedication ceremony of the revitalized Kazmaier Stadium on August 15, 2018, it was announced that the football field would henceforth be known as Chapman Field in honor of Chapman’s enormously successful fundraising efforts.
Chapman was inducted into the Maumee High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 in recognition of his athletic prowess in baseball, basketball and football.
Chapman was named as the Maumee Outstanding Citizen Award recipient by the Maumee Chamber of Commerce and was honored with the award at a banquet on March 1, 2017.
Chapman raised three sons with his former wife, the late Deborah Lynn Chapman.
Surviving are his wife, Leslie Chapman; sons, Caith (Jody), Brian and Eric; stepdaughter, Elise Ansberg; bonus daughter, Brianna Rotterdam; sister Connie (Mike) Dillon; and grandchildren, Oscar, Nash, Bobby, Ava (“Monkey”) and Vernon.
A celebration of life for George L. Chapman III will be held from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at the Toledo Museum of Art. Arrangements are being made by the Ansberg-West Funeral Home.
In honor of Chapman’s generosity to his community, the family suggests any memorials be sent to the Panther Pride Foundation to benefit the Maumee City Schools.
John (Jack) Wesley Hiles Jr. was born on November 20, 1949, to John Hiles Sr. and Dorothy (Koontz) Hiles.
Young Hiles attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Maumee. At the age of 8, he received a canvas money pouch from the former State Home Savings Bank as a gift from his father. This would prove to be the genesis of Hiles’ lifelong fascination of collecting Maumee memorabilia.
Hiles’ collection grew steadily with each passing year until he had amassed approximately 10,000 historical artifacts pertaining to Maumee.
Shortly after graduating from Maumee High School in 1968, Hiles attended the National School of Meat Cutting in downtown Toledo. He found employment at Food Town as a meat cutter for the first 12 years of his career. His friendly demeanor and exemplary work ethic resulted in his promotion to store manager, and he served in that capacity for the next 22 years.
When he retired from Food Town in 2002, Hiles became a district representative with Modern Woodmen of America, an insurance provider. The new position enabled Hiles enough time to maintain the many friendships he had built over the years.
During all of this time, Hiles kept accumulating Maumee memorabilia and became a learned student of Maumee history in the process. He enjoyed showing off his collection at various public events held in conjunction with the Wolcott House Museum, the Maumee Senior Center and the Maumee Chamber of Commerce. He also dutifully set up displays of memorabilia at the annual St. Joseph Catholic Church First Communion breakfasts over many years.
With a burgeoning collection of artifacts growing by the week and becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain at his home, Hiles decided to donate his massive collection to the Maumee Memorabilia Museum on the grounds of the Wolcott Museum Complex on River Road, where it could be more readily accessed and appreciated by interested Maumee history enthusiasts.
Every Wednesday during the spring, summer and fall months, Hiles would gather with a group of like-minded Maumee history fanatics to help organize and display the many artifacts at the museum. Over the months and years, close friendships were forged as the volunteers worked closely together, investigating local historical mysteries and sharing many laughs along the way.
Hiles was a gentle and beloved man, known for his quick wit, kind and generous nature and a propensity for telling jokes.
In 2018, Hiles was presented with the Maumee High School Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of his significant contributions and achievements in the community in his years since graduating from MHS.
Hiles was also presented with a Maumee Hometown Hero Award from the Maumee Chamber of Commerce in 2002.
Hiles enjoyed cooking bean soup and other foods for his friends at the Donald J. Koontz Maumee VFW Post 11115, which was named in honor of his uncle.
Hiles is survived by his wife, Gloria; daughter, Laura (Denis) Logan; son, John (Tania); grandchildren, Denis Logan, Dylan Logan, Valerie Fenimore and John Wesley Hiles IV; sister, Char (Leonard) Nesper; friend and ex-wife, Hope (Chris) Hasselkus; sisters-in-law, Sue Hiles and Vicky Studier; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A graveside service will be held for Jack Hiles on Saturday, April 1 at 11:00 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery in Maumee. Arrangements are being made by Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home in Maumee.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Maumee Memorabilia Museum. Condolences to the family may be made online at walkerfuneralhome.com.