Hilliard Northwest News

Helen King and Jack Headlee

'Inspirational' seniors inducted into hall of fame

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Two new members were added to the Hilliard Senior Citizen Hall of Fame during the 26th annual induction ceremony Oct. 7 at the Phyllis A. Ernst Senior Center.

Helen King, born one year before the maiden voyage of the Titanic, received accolades alongside Jack Headlee's family members, who accepted the posthumous honor for their family patriarch, who died May 21 at the age of 87.

Each year since 1987, at least one person has been inducted into the hall of fame. On occasional years, a couple has been inducted or a posthumous inductee has been named.

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt read proclamations recognizing and honoring each inductee.

King and Headlee's family also received proclamations from the Senate and House of Representatives of Ohio and the United States, including a U.S. flag that had flown above the Capitol building.

Schonhardt told the 101-year-old King she is "an inspiration to us all."

King was born March 11, 1911, in Galloway and graduated from West High School in 1929.

She attended the Wynter School of Impression, an acting school on West 10th Avenue from 1924 until her marriage to Robert King in 1938.

The 68-year union bore two sons, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"They were what happy ever after is all about," said granddaughter Elizabeth Finke of London.

Finke recounted her grandmother's childhood advice to her and King's numerous acts of volunteerism. King has been a poll worker at the Hilliard United Methodist Church, where she is a lifelong member; volunteered for the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association; and read to children at multiple Hilliard schools, most recently at Hilliard Tharp Sixth Grade School.

Finke said her grandmother reminds her of a tree whose branches spread wide and roots run deep.

"You are a gift from God ... and an inspiration," Finke said.

King is a charter member of the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society and was active with the Franklin County Farm Bureau.

Her late husband, Bob, was a past president of the Hilliard school board. King's two sons, Dale and Glen, are Hilliard graduates.

"It's been a very exciting day," King said while she greeted family and friends, including a niece, Beverly Rhyan, who traveled from Texas, and another niece and nephew from Sarasota, Fla.

King said Norm McElheny, a fellow Hall of Famer, and his wife brought a bouquet of flowers to her when they told her she had been selected.

"I couldn't believe it. ... I didn't think I deserved it," King said.

Rick Tidd, one of Headlee's sons-in-law, surmised Headlee would have been equally proud of his induction into the Hall of Fame as he would have been for his beloved Ohio State University football team and the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, both of which earned impressive wins the prior evening.

A 1942 graduate of Hilliard High School, Headlee served in the U.S. Army during World War II before returning to Hilliard, marrying and working at the Russell Grain Co.

In 1962, he opened J & L Wash and Dry -- named using the initials of himself and his wife, Lavonne -- on Center Street in Old Hilliard, next door to the original office of the Hilliard Northwest News.

The following year, he opened Jack's Appliances next door to the laundromat. The Russell Grain Co. had sold appliances, so Headlee was familiar with the trade. For about 10 years, he operated both until he sold the laundromat.

Headlee's son-in-law, Dave Mitchell, recounted his experience as a young salesman at Jack's Appliances and the acumen of Headlee as its founder.

Mitchell spoke about how Headlee continued to use longhand math to figure payroll deduction and sales tax even after he was shown how to use an adding machine or calculator.

"He never raised his voice to me although I'm sure he was angry many times. ... had some goofy (business) ideas sometimes," Mitchell said. "But most of all I am proud I was his son-in-law."

Headlee was a former member of Hilliard City Council and a co-founder of the Hilliard Business Owners Association, a predecessor of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce and a life member of the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society. At the time of his death, he was the oldest past commander of American Legion Memorial Post 614.

Headlee is survived by Lavonne, his wife of 68 years; children, Sheila (Dave) Mitchell; Arlene (Rick) Tidd; Dianna (Donald) Schwerin; six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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