The Athens Historian Surrounded By OU Hooligans

If you want any inkling behind the life and times of Mr. Whealey, all you have to do is look on his front porch.

It’s cluttered.

But… not necessarily in a careless way.

Wrapped inside a vine-woven canopy, wandering eyes can catch a glimpse of a copy of “Alan Clark — Diaries,” and “The Guns at Last Light — The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945.” Not to mention a loose Athens block, tattered and stained newspapers from 20-30 years ago, stacks on stacks of boxes with files, and even a dusty photo scanner.

The porch on 14 Oak St., personified, would be a doyen scholar — exactly what historian Robert Whealey, 88, has proven to be at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

The irony, however, lies in the location of his porch of 50 years. That particular veranda is a drop of intelligence in a pond of rowdy apartments, broken-down rented homes, and expansive fraternity houses — all owned by college students.

Whealey, and his wife, Lois, have dealt with countless spring fests replete with thousands of debauched young adults. The couple has tried to sleep through years of drunken escapades occurring at 3 a.m. on a weeknight.

“I couldn’t imagine being their age and having to deal with the commotion all the time,” said neighbor and student Izaak Zrnich. “They have a unique set of patience and tolerance for sure.”

Whealey remembers a specific incident on Oak Street back in 2007.

“One time we had neighbors burning mattresses outside,” Whealey said. “Flames!”

Despite it all, Whealey lives where he does, because he loves Ohio University, the Southeastern Ohio town it lies in, and the students.

“He’s a super nice guy,” said neighbor and student Isaac Northrop. “I think there’s an unspoken respect that college kids have to know not to badger him.”

If you ever see Mr. Whealey, he’ll remind you to take a look at his button glued to his suspenders. It reads: “History is everything.”

He ignores the fireworks and the broken bottles, so he can be near his life’s work. His message is clear.

“I’m here to serve the students.”


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