History buffs, educators, and extraordinary contributors were honored April 4 at the 17th Annual Oberlin Heritage Center meeting.
Each year, awards are given to individuals, businesses, or organizations that share in the nonprofit’s mission “to preserve and share Oberlin’s unique history and to make the community a better place to live, learn, work and visit.”
Oberlin police officer Bashshar Wiley won the Community Historian Award for expanding the community’s knowledge of local police history and for bringing state and national honor to former officer who died in the line of duty.
Wiley manages the department’s Facebook page and posts weekly “Throwback Thursday” photographs of police staff throughout the years. His research helped rediscover the fate of constable Franklin Stone, whose 1881 death had been forgotten.
“I couldn’t believe that something happened here even though it was 130-some years ago and it was completely forgotten,” he said.
For five years, Francis Stuart has offered free two-hour sessions at the Oberlin Public Library to help community members trace their genealogy. The retired high school teacher has provided more than 700 hours of assistance to anyone interested in their family heritage. He was presented with the Community Historian Award.
Adenike Sharpley has dedicated much of her life to preserving and sharing African and African-American history and culture through the arts and education, both on the Oberlin College campus and as a longtime business owner of the downtown gift shop Ade’s Place.
In 1992, she coordinated the first Oberlin Heritage Days, an annual even that soon grew to celebrate both the city’s African-American heritage as well as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when many enslaved people in Texas first experienced emancipation.
She was given the Heritage Guardian Award for her devotion to conservation and preservation.
Carl Jacobson was named Volunteer of the Year for joining the Oberlin Heritage Center’s docent team a little over two years ago and quickly becoming well-versed in leading both on-site tours and history walks. He branched out even further in his work by agreeing to chair the city’s oral history committee.
Zaria Amerson won the Youth Community Service Award for her work as a teen assistant at the OHC summer camps. As a child, she attended nine camps over four summers.
“What I like most about being at the camp is helping the staff and teaching the kids about history,” she said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.