Deb Wickerham has spent over 40 years making the community of Findlay a better place. As a public school teacher she has impacted the lives of Findlay’s youth for 36 years. And now, in retirement, she devotes her time and energy to serving two vital community organizations: Flag City Honor Flight and the Hancock Historical Museum.
An impressive teaching career
A Cleveland area native, Wickerham came to Findlay as a student teacher while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green State University. Upon graduating, she took a job with Findlay City Schools, teaching special education at Chamberlain Hill Elementary School for 33 years, where she worked with preschoolers through sixth graders. She taught inclusion for several years to fifth graders before retiring in 2012.
During Wickerham’s teaching career, she studied at the University of Findlay, earning her master’s degree in educational leadership. She also received many awards for her work in education, including the Ohio Teacher of the Year (2008/2009), the Ohio Presidential Award of Excellence in Science (1999), and the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Bowling Green State University and the University of Findlay.
The same year that Wickerham retired from teaching, she directed her desire to give back down a new avenue. Along with a group from the Findlay Elks, she established a local chapter of the national nonprofit, Honor Flight. Before the start of what became Flag City Honor Flight, the nearest chapter was located in Toledo, which placed Hancock County-area veterans on a long waiting list.
Wickerham serves as the executive director and flight director for Flag City Honor Flight. An organization that operates solely with donations and volunteers, Flag City Honor Flight enables veterans from northwest Ohio, lower Michigan, and Indiana to visit memorials in Washington D.C. At first, Flag City Honor Flight was making one flight per year. Through increased donations from organizations like Marathon Petroleum, Ohio Logistics, and Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD., among others, the organization was able to increase that to two flights and two bus trips per year.
Wickerham is proud to be a part of this organization.
Bringing history to life
In addition to her work with Flag City Honor Flight, Wickerham fills her time in retirement with her role at the Hancock Historical Museum. She plans the children and family activities and coordinates volunteers for events, like science and energy camps, at the Museum as well as for historical presentations throughout the community. She has also been helpful with “Night at the Museum” sleepover experiences and Victorian Front Porch Teas for young girls and their American Girl dolls. She is currently planning Moon Magic, a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing.
A teacher at heart
“Teaching was not a job,” Wickerham says of her 36 years in the profession.
“Teaching has always been my passion. I carried that passion to the museum. My goal is to bring in more parents and their children so they can learn about our local history.”
This passion seems to be Wickerham’s driving motivation. About her work with Flag City Honor Flight, Wickerham says, “Flag City Honor Flight’s first mission is to take veterans to see the memorials, the secondary goal is to teach the children why we should appreciate all our soldiers have done for us.”
Wickerham’s heart for her community sets her apart as an example for others. She has been married for 40 years, and has two children, one grandson, and another grandchild on the way.
What do you enjoy about living in Findlay? The small community feeling. I grew up in Cleveland and the suburbs of Cleveland. It’s nice to see so many people that you know. I love running into former students and their families and veterans we’ve taken on Honor Flights. I also appreciate the friendliness of people here.
What are some of the hidden treasures at the museum that kids would enjoy? The USS Maine Bathtub, Samurai armor, Grant cars and a huge fossil rock that was found in a farm field in Hancock County.
How can local families help support Flag City Honor Flight? By attending functions that raise funds for future flights and by sharing with children the importance of appreciating all that our veterans have done to preserve our freedom.