Obituaries » Charles 'Chuck' R. Hilty
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November 6, 1934 - May 30, 2020
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Charles R. (“Chuck”) Hilty died on May 30, 2020, age 85, of complications of COVID-19. Chuck had a long and distinguished career as a newspaper editor and as a senior government administrator in both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
He was born November 6, 1934 in Bluffton, Ohio. After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1960, Chuck headed for a career in journalism. From 1956 to 1967 he was associate editor and then editor of the Bluffton News (Bluffton, Ohio). During this era, the News won several state and national awards. Chuck served in the Ohio National Guard from 1960 to 1966. In 1967, he and his wife Carole K. Dirks Hilty moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where Chuck became the editor of the Pantagraph. Then from 1973 to 1978 he was night editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In 1978, U.S. Congressman Ed Madigan enticed Chuck to Washington, D.C., to become Madigan’s chief of staff. From 1984 to 1991, Chuck served as minority staff director for the House Committee on Agriculture. After President George H.W. Bush appointed Madigan as Secretary of Agriculture in 1991, Chuck was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Administration and served as such for the balance of Bush’s term. One of his roles in that capacity was to be the chief financial officer of the second largest department of the federal government. Chuck’s and Madigan’s joint mantra was “attention to detail”.
Chuck was an active volunteer, always involved in his community in ways that showed the breadth of his interests. Over the years, he was president of the Bluffton Ohio Public Library Board and the Northwest Ohio Newspaper Association, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the Historical Society of the District of Columbia and the governing body of the Foundry United Methodist Church, and board chair of the Arneson Institute of Practical Politics at Ohio Wesleyan University. Chuck was a great raconteur and an avid photographer, was “wicked smart” and loved politics, travel and trains. He was not just “a” baseball fan, he was “the” baseball fan. He could not watch a baseball game (which he did often, especially in St. Louis where he worked the night editorial shift) without keeping a fully annotated box score. What he didn’t know about the game and its players wasn’t worth knowing. One of his goals in life was to photograph every covered bridge in the United States. He delighted in taking candid shots of his nieces as they grew up.
Chuck’s wife Carole, who doted on her nieces, sadly predeceased him by more than 25 years.
Chuck is survived by his brother-in-law Marvin J. Dirks, Jr. and sister-in-law Ruthann Cochran Dirks and his brother-in-law Stanley J. Dirks, and by his nieces: Rachel Dirks, Danielle Crisman, Erin Mathes and Emily Garvie, and their children.
Contributions in Chuck’s memory may be made to Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C., or to Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio, for the Carole K. Hilty Scholarship Fund. Chuck lives on in the hearts of those who were honored enough to really know him…feisty, charming, and intensely loving.
Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.chiles-lamanfh.com.