Historical Society announces lecture dates


Submitted story



Warren Grimes, circa 1960

Warren Grimes, circa 1960


Submitted photos

Dean Wilson is shown in this vintage photo preparing for the plowing contest in 1950 after having won the competition the previous two years.


Submitted photos

The Champaign County Historical Society will present two educational lectures this summer about local history. The programs are free.

Nancy Patzer: A Light In The Sky

At the Urbana Aviation Museum on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m., Nancy Patzer will present a program on Warren Grimes, a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Grimes, the inventor of the familiar red, green and white navigation lights still found on the wing tips and tails of modern aircraft, made his home in Urbana, Ohio and created an internationally-known company, Grimes Manufacturing. As businessman and community leader, Grimes provided jobs for thousands of local workers and built the Grimes Field airport on the north side of town.

From his humble beginnings in an orphanage near Dayton, and as a day worker at Ford Motor Company, Grimes had the grit and ambition, not to mention ingenuity, to live the American Dream. Grimes served as mayor of Urbana and chairman of the State of Ohio Aviation Board. This “Father of the Aircraft Lighting Industry” built airplane lighting that helped the U.S. and Allied Forces win World War II.

Grimes Manufacturing is now part of Honeywell International’s Aerospace Division. Mr. Grimes passed away in 1975. In an effort to celebrate Grimes and his legacy, Mike Major, visual artist and sculptor, published a book on Grimes at Main Graphics, his design shop in downtown Urbana. With the help of writer Nancy Patzer, who grew up in Urbana and has written historical non-fiction throughout her writing career, the book is called “A Light in the Sky: A Biography of Warren G. Grimes and the History of Aviation Lighting.”

Patzer, a 1983 graduate of Urbana High School, currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. She has written a number of articles on Ohio history. She owns a marketing communications company, providing consulting services to the residential housing and healthcare industries. Patzer also dabbles in fiction and has twice received the Thurber Treat Award for Humorous Fiction by the Thurber House Literary Center.

1950 National Plowing Contest

On Sunday, Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Champaign County Historical Museum at 809 East Lawn Avenue, there will be a program on the 1950 National Plowing Contest that was held in Champaign County. There will be several presenters talking about their memories of this event. The presenters will include: Howard Brust discussing the history of this event, members of the Dean Wilson family relating how the publicity from their father’s success affected their family, Sue Evans Berkemeier covering the conservation project connected with the event, and finally, Sarah Finch will introduce Shirley “Payne” Prosser who was crowned the Queen of the Furrow of Champaign County in 1950.

Warren Grimes, circa 1960
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2021/07/web1_grimes.jpgWarren Grimes, circa 1960 Submitted photos

Dean Wilson is shown in this vintage photo preparing for the plowing contest in 1950 after having won the competition the previous two years.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2021/07/web1_plow.jpgDean Wilson is shown in this vintage photo preparing for the plowing contest in 1950 after having won the competition the previous two years. Submitted photos

Submitted story

Information from Champaign County Historical Society.

Information from Champaign County Historical Society.