Each year since 1994, someone has been honored for service in making history live in the Big Walnut community. During the Oct. 4 Big Walnut Area Historical Society Heritage Day, Roger Roberts was named as the 2015 Outstanding Volunteer.
In the early 1980s, Christie Manor asked Roberts to be the town crier for Christmas-on-the-Square, held each year on the first Saturday night in December. He still plays the role in a historic colonial town crier outfit, complete with bell.
Roberts became an active member of the historical society when he retired from Big Walnut High School where he taught history, served as a guidance director, and was active in the sports department in various positions.
His mother-in-law, Edna Hoke, had been active in the historical society from the organization’s beginning, bringing her husband, Ed, and her daughter, Bette (Hoke) Roberts, into the organization. The Hokes were named Heritage Day honorees in 1999.
Bette Roberts served as membership chair for many years with Jeannette Curren. After Curren took over other roles, Bette Roberts recruited her husband, Roger, to help her.
In 2006, Roger was elected to the historical society’s board of trustees. Through the years, he has served in many capacities, including volunteer coordinator, youth volunteer coordinator and program chairman.
“Roger has always been ready to step in and help where needed, especially during museum renovations,” said Myers Inn curator Polly Horn. “In addition to making wise decisions as a member of the historical society board, Roger has taken over the task of finding speakers for our monthly meetings. He not only makes the contacts, but also secures biographical information for publicity, makes sure the right equipment is available, and the meeting room is set up for the program.”
While using a Hal Sherman painting on loan to the Myers Inn Museum from Jim Thompson, Roberts has become an expert on the death of Chief Leatherlips, which he shares in first person in period-correct clothes with schoolchildren and other local groups, Horn said.
Roberts also serves as a docent in the Myers Inn Museum, plants flowers in the Granville Street planter, and helps with the Civil War School Day held in March, Horn said.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093