Centerville donor Francis “Jack” Hilbing has done plenty of traveling during his active duty time in the Air Force and his career in computer technology, but because he “married a Dayton girl” the Miami Valley has always been home. Another home base was returning to the Dayton Community Blood Center July 1 for his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation.
“The Dayton girl” Jack married is his wife Bertha, who goes by Birdie. They met when he joined the Air Force after college and was immediately sent to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. They raised a family of three children, five grandchildren and now three great-grandchildren.
Jack spent 20 years in active duty, and their traveling was only beginning. “The Air Force kept paying me to go to school” he said, as his computer knowledge grew. He spent 12 years at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh then taught three years at the Air Force Academy.
“We moved back to Dayton in 2001,” he said. “I was giving whole blood once in a while. But my brother-in-law, Jim Beck, was doing apheresis. I came down with him one day and we did it and I kept doing it ever since.”
Jack and a partner opened a consulting company and he was on the road again. “I made five trips to Japan in one year,” he said. After three years he retired, and slowed his pace – at least a bit. He looks forward to a family gathering later in July when several of his kids and grandkids will join him on a 20-mile bicycle ride that will feature a refreshment stop at Young’s Dairy.
“It’s hard to believe we can get that many of us together,” he said. “It seems to be the right distance for everyone, and the stop for ice cream will be the best part.”