BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Jack Hiles never met an antique he didn’t like.
In fact, since age 8, he has cherished just about anything with history tied to it – especially if the city of Maumee is also attached somehow.
His work in the community and in the field of historical preservation recently garnered recognition and praise from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which honored Hiles with the Historic Preservation Award. DAR member Alicia Lipinski said the award is well-deserved as she and fellow DAR members Paula Lauer and Chris Burkhart presented the award on October 5.
“A lot of people know that he is the historian of this whole community,” Lipinski said.
Hiles serves as the curator of the Maumee Memorabilia Museum, where he oversees more than 15,000 historical items that originated primarily from his personal collection. While Hiles has not been able to display historical items at special events due to the pandemic, he still meets with people by appointment at the museum, which is located at the Wolcott Heritage Center complex.
In his award nomination letter, Wolcott Heritage Center site manager Tonya Haynes said that Hiles is “devoted to saving objects of local importance for the future.”
“He is well-known as the local go-to guy for local history,” she wrote.
Karen and Tim Wagener, who are longtime volunteers and advocates of the museum complex, also submitted a letter in support of his nomination in which they credited Hiles with saving buildings of historical significance.
“In the face of adversity, Jack championed the Wolcott Heritage Center in its entirety,” they wrote. “When it was suggested that the buildings merely be photographed for posterity before demolishing them, Jack was instrumental in fighting against that.”
Prior to his work at the museum, Hiles served as the executive director of the Maumee Valley Historical Society from 2004 through 2014.
Hiles hopes to eventually have the museum open during regular weekend hours as he continues to spend time there collecting and archiving items. He has also been busy studying his ancestry, tracing his roots to the Revolutionary War.
Hiles, who turns 72 next month, is also focused on regaining his health after a lengthy recovery from the coronavirus, which he contracted last November. He said he is very happy to be back at the museum again with fellow volunteers, good friends and family.
“This award is wonderful,” said Hiles. “As an individual, you feel like you don’t deserve it, but it’s nice they do it and the DAR is really a great group. I am feeling better and anytime you get recognition, it’s nice.”