Smith Field advocate recognized by county

September 26, 2018

An Allen County native who is lobbying to preserve Smith Air Field and helping people who are battling drug addiction is the recipient of the 2018 Linda & Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award.

Robert “Bob” Wearley was presented Tuesday with the award by the Allen County commissioners.

The presentation was at the airfield’s Hangar 2, which Wearley hopes to have transformed into the National Airmail Museum. He is working with U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Todd Young, R-Ind., to have Congress designate the hangar as the museum.

“Bob is a community advocate who has worked tirelessly to keep Smith Field open,” Commissioner Nelson Peters said in a statement. “He has also assisted in strengthening the Allen County Jail ministry and continues to fight for those who have succumbed to drug addiction.”

Wearley retired from the Air Force after 17 years as a lieutenant colonel. His aviation career included a nine-year stint as chief pilot for Howard Hughes, and he has piloted 747 aircraft for two airlines.

Wearley also was on the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority’s board of directors and spent five years as marketing director for Fort Wayne International Airport.

In addition, Wearley is president of the Allen County Jail Chaplaincy and a board member of Faith Based Mentoring Ministries.

Wearley received a personal plaque, and his name was included on a permanent plaque that is kept in the commissioners’ office.

He also received a $250 check from Fire-Police City-County Federal Credit Union, which is handling a special account established by an anonymous donor for recipients of the award. Wearley said he will donate the money to the jail chaplaincy program and the National Airmail Museum project, for which advocates are raising money.

The commissioners announced establishment of the award in 2016 to be presented annually to people who reside in Allen County and have lived a life of service to the community outside of their professions in the example and tradition set by the Vandeveers.

Fort Wayne resident Dan Wire and his wife, Judi, received the 2017 Linda & Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award. Judi Wire was nominated for her work to revitalize the Wells Street Corridor, among other things. Dan Wire was nominated largely because of his work to clean up and reuse local rivers.

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