Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum Is Dedicated

Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum Is Dedicated At Wolcott Heritage Center
A crowd of over 150 people was on hand last Saturday afternoon to witness the dedication of the Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum at the Wolcott Heritage Center in Maumee. Following remarks by Maumee Valley Historical Society president Jenny Barlos and D.J. Deiter of Modern Woodmen of America, the new sign for the museum was unveiled to a round of applause by all in attendance. Gathering for a photo near the new sign (above) were 25 members of the extended family of Jack W. Hiles who traveled from near and far to be part of the ceremony honoring the beloved Maumee resident and historian, who passed away on March 23 of last year. MIRROR PHOTO BY MIKE McCARTHY

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Family, friends and fellow volunteers filled the lawn in front of the newly dedicated Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum on May 11.

The skies cleared in time for over 150 people to support the naming of the museum in honor of the late founder and his efforts in making local history available to the residents of Maumee.

For decades, Jack Hiles collected thousands of pieces of Maumee history, from yearbooks to signs to old uniforms and toys, recording their stories along with them.

He stored the pieces in the basement of his home for many years, always excited to share the information with whomever was interested.

“When he brought it all over here, he was so excited to have people be able to come in and look at it,” said his wife Gloria.

Having the museum dedicated in Jack’s name meant everything, Gloria said.

It was a meaningful way to recognize Jack’s years of volunteering and his commitment to preservation while also allowing younger generations the opportunity to learn about him and what he did for the city.

The recognition was well-deserved, said Maumee Valley Historical Society board president Jenny Barlos.

“What a loving tribute to a wonderful man who is responsible for all of this,” Barlos said in her speech at the dedication event.

Anyone who knew Jack was familiar with his volunteerism and constant recruitment of anyone who cared about preserving history, Barlos noted.

Jack kept everything catalogued and organized in his head, she said. Now, the volunteers of the museum have been keeping his legacy alive and working hard to learn every piece in the museum.

Many of the people working to organize the museum and get it ready for visitors have also included members of Jack’s family, who have volunteered their time just like he did. 

After all, it’s a family thing, Gloria said.

“I think he got this from his mother,” she said. “She lived in Maumee her whole life. She had a community here and she collected stuff, too, because it was important to her.”

Jack surrounded himself with people who cared deeply about the community, she noted.

Fellow volunteer and friend Jon Cunningham said he learned a lot about Maumee from Jack.

“If there were more people like Jack Hiles in this world, this world would be a better place,” Cunning-ham said.

In recognition of his dedication to his community and the individuals he met with every day, D.J. Deiter of Modern Wood-men of America presented Gloria with a Hometown Hero Award for Jack.

“We have an emphasis that we give back to our clients and the communities that we serve,” Deiter said. “I can’t think of a better example of a person who did that in a selfless way, whether it was his job or not. That’s who Jack was.”

Historical society board member Greg Smith said Jack would be remembered as one of Maumee’s most influential citizens for his passion and love of the city.

“He was so proud of his city. He really loved it here, and he thought it was so great to live here,” Gloria said. “He loved where he came from.”

It was because of that love that Jack became friends with everyone he met and was able to constantly garner support for the museum and historical society, Barlos said. In his honor, she is hoping people will continue to support these endeavors and seek out ways to preserve history.

“If you have an interest in history, we would love to talk to you and find out how you, too, can be plugged into the history of this great community,” Barlos told the crowd.

The Maumee Valley Historical Society and Wolcott Heritage Center can be reached at (419) 893-9602. The museum and Wolcott Heritage Center can also be found on Facebook.

The Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum is now open for visitors every Saturday from noon to 2:00 p.m. on the Wolcott Heritage Center grounds at 1035 River Rd. in Maumee.

“Jack just loved to sit on that porch and tell people all about Maumee,” Gloria recounted.

Volunteers are now ready to welcome more people onto the porch and inside the building to continue sharing the history of Maumee and its residents.

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