Signs of His Time: the life and work of Bill Hankey
Yes, Bill Hankey was a self-employed sign maker in Jackson, Ohio, but that's not at all the whole story of his 83 years on earth, 1915-1999.
He showed the world where to look with his perfectly painted directions.
It didn't matter if it was paper, cloth, wood, or metal, Hankey would paint precisely aligned letters or fabulously designed icons on them.
When Uncle Sam needed signs and planes painted, Hankey answered the call. He signed up with the U.S. Army's 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron of the Army Air Corps from 1942-1945. Many planes from the Philippines and Guam flew with Hankey's work on the tail fins or with a baby-faced female likeness on nose.
Back home, Hankey set his keen eye on business signs in all areas of Ohio. As new businesses sprouted, Hankey was there to advertise for them. When neon signs need fixed and mounted, Hankey would paint behind them and install the glass tubes, making it better than before.
Many semi-trucks and cabs carried Hankey's handiwork across America. When a particularly large illustrated bottle of 7-Up went by on a semi , it was likely Hankey had a part in it. The arrival of plastic signs didn't phase him, those needed painted too.
While all this work was happening, Hankey and his wife Louise Johnson raised a family of three daughters so they were ultimately a family of five Jackson High School graduates: Bill in 1933, Louise 1940, Peggy 1965, Barbara 1968, and Susie 1975. Hankey even traveled to the Rose Bowl a few times to watch his OSU Buckeyes play and in 1971, his devotion to Jackson and the Buckeyes could be seen in vibrant color in a Canadian magazine through a sign he painted on the spot and held proudly.
Even today, Hankey's design work is still visible in downtown Jackson, if you know where to look and what to see.
Stop in at the Jones Museum from Nov. 7-Dec. 31, 2019 to learn more or see again, the work of "Hankey of course'.