Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Auglaize historical association honors Doenges
By Amy Kronenberger
WAPAKONETA - A Wapakoneta man was honored Thursday night for his dedication to Auglaize County and its history.
Verne Doenges received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Auglaize County Historical Society during the organization's 50th anniversary banquet.
Society administrator Rachel Barber told the crowd of more than 100 that no resident stood out more than Doenges as the best candidate for the award.
"We can think of no person who has done more to further interest in and promote the preservation of local history than Vern Doenges," she said.
Barber noted Doenges' accomplishments as a musician and the longest serving elected official in Auglaize County. Now in his early 90s, he served as county auditor for 28 years before retiring in 1987.
"But Vern is being honored this evening for his love of history," she said. "The reason Vern Doenges is a wonderful historian is he shares things. It's not about collecting history; everyone collects things ... History is not something to be hoarded; it's something to be shared with everyone."
The crowd gave an emotional Doenges a standing ovation as he stood to receive his award. He said he was very flattered and humbled.
"When I was told about the award, the first thing that came to mind was 'Why me?'" he said.
Doenges said he did not have a speech prepared and could only think of one way to describe how he felt about the moment and the people around him. He proceeded to serenade the crowd with the song "Wherever You Go."
Also honored on Thursday were St. Marys sisters Jeanne and Marie Meyer for the "Most Loving Preservation of an Auglaize County Home." Barber said organizers had a difficult time finding the appropriate house because so many historical homes have been refurbished in the county.
"But when you look at this house, it just looks happy," she said. "It's a happy house and it looks much like it did when it was built."
Jeanne and Marie Meyer purchased the 130-year-old home at 101 Ash St., St. Marys, in 1990.
"I wish we had pictures of what the old girl looked like when we got her," Jeanne Meyer said of the residence. "She was desperate. She needed a lot of love, so my sister and I bought her to give her the TLC she deserved."
After the banquet, the sisters told the newspaper they've dedicated their lives to fixing up the house during the past 20 years, working full-time jobs then coming home and painting until dawn. Their brother, a college professor, would visit on the weekends to help out and said "it was a privilege to work on this work of art," they said.
The historical society also honored Auglaize County Commissioners Don Regula, John Bergman and Doug Spencer with an Award for Special Merit for their part in remodeling the courthouse, which was rededicated September 2012.
Regula thanked the society for the award but said everyone involved in the endeavor should be honored.
"When you consider all the work and all the people involved in the project, we really had a minute role in it," he said.
G.A. Wintzer & Son Co., Wapakoneta, was honored for the Business That Best Honors Auglaize County History. Barber said the company has been family-owned since it was founded by Charles Wintzer in 1848. The business began as a tanning industry for strap and harness leather goods.
Over time, the company evolved into an animal feed supplier and transporter of byproducts. It is now operated by fifth-generation owners, brothers Gus and Carl Wintzer.
Other speakers at the banquet included Luke Stedke, communications director of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, and Burt Logan, executive director of the Ohio Historical Society. The men spoke about Ohio history and the role of the historical society.