The Highland House Museum and Presbyterian Church are shown from East Main Street in Hillsboro.
The Highland House Museum and Presbyterian Church are shown from East Main Street in Hillsboro.
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a series leading up to the Highland County Historical Society inducting four more members into its Hall of Fame on Aug. 18.

Ladies and gentlemen, many years ago the Highland County Historical Society created the Highland County Hall of Fame to recognize, honor and celebrate those who have made invaluable contributions to the county and/or the world beyond. By honoring and recognizing these people, the Hall of Fame serves to stimulate an interest in – and appreciation for – the value of the history of this county and its citizens. Further, the Hall reinforces to our youths that they can, and should, strive for excellence in any endeavor they may undertake.

Next month, the Highland County Historical Society will induct four more members into its hallowed Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include Jack Hope, Willard Parr and the late Wilfred Konneker and Arthur Milner.

The ceremony will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m., with a reception and social hour immediately following at the Highland House Museum. The Highland County Historical Society cordially invites the public to attend and honor this outstanding group.

The four to be inducted expands the number of those enshrined to 60.

So before we delve into profiling each of those to be honored in the coming weeks, let’s take a few moments to take a brief look at each inductee:

• Jack I. Hope. Upon receiving a degree in aeronautical engineering, Jack Hope turned his love of flying into a stellar career in the aircraft industry. He went on to develop advanced aircraft engines, nuclear aircraft engines, advanced military engines and technology support for the White House.

He became part of an international joint venture to develop and produce a new commercial aircraft engine, the CFM56, one of the most successful commercial aircraft engines in history, still in production today. Returning home to Highland County upon retirement, Jack has remained very active in local community revitalization, genealogy and historical preservation.

• Wilfred R. Konneker (1922-2016). Following the death of his mother, young Wilfred Konneker, was raised in Greenfield at the home of his grandmother and aunt. Upon graduation from McClain High School in 1940, he attended Ohio University graduating in 1943 with a degree in chemistry and math. During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project.

He was a pioneer in the nuclear medicine field, using radioisotopes for diagnosis and therapy. He founded and co-founded many companies. He and his wife, Ann Lee, were major philanthropists, endowing the Konneker scholarship each year to a McClain High School graduate, many programs at Ohio University and St. Louis and the historical society’s Stone School.

• Arthur Milner (1902-2004). Arthur Milner grew up in Leesburg Ohio on a family farm which he continued to operate for many years. Following graduation from Wilmington College, Arthur became a well-known educator, legislator, farmer and leader in church, civic and Masonic organizations.

He served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in area schools. During his eight years of service in the Ohio House of Representatives, representing Highland County, Arthur served on the education subcommittee that established the Ohio State Board of Education
as an elected body. He helped to reorganize the Highland County fair and was appointed to the first Ohio Exposition Commission. He was very active in the Lions Club until in his late 90s. He was a member of the Masons and, along with his wife Helen, was very active in Eastern Star, serving in many capacities.

• Willard Ray “Will” Parr. Since his 1956 start at Hillsboro’s WSRW, Willard Parr has been called the “Voice of Southern Ohio.” Until his retirement in 2018, he informed and entertained hundreds of thousands of listeners throughout Highland County and Southern Ohio with his personal broadcasting style.

During 62 years on the air, he was constantly seen doing remote broadcasts at local businesses, interviewing local elected officials and citizens, serving as master of ceremonies at parades and other public events, as a deejay for teen dances and helping raise money for local charities.

For more information on the society or the upcoming Hall of Fame ceremony, please call (937) 393-3392 or email the society at hchistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.