Return of the Native:  The Ken Hine Story by Dick Meister

On August 19, 2014 while I was working in my overgrown front yard at 75 Ogden Road, a car with a New York license place, PU SU, drove slowly by.  It soon turned around, stopped and a white-headed gentleman, about my age, asked with some hesitation if I lived in the dunes.   Given my yard outfit, I certainly did not look like a resident.   He then introduced himself as Ken Hine who had moved to a home on Ogden Road when he was 11.    Following graduation from Portage High School in 1954 he spent a semester at Illinois Wesleyan before joining the marines.  His parents sold their home in 1955 because of a job transfer.

Ken has not been back in the dunes for many decades.  This week he and his wife have rented a house in Beverly Shores in order to have a mini family reunion for his children, 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.  On the 19th he decided to revisit his childhood home and neighborhood.  Much has changed; very little of the Ogden Dunes of his childhood is recognizable, even his childhood home at 76 Ogden Road.   It was only after our hour’s conversation and his departure did I begin to research which house on Ogden Road was the Hine family home.  It turned out to be directly across the street from where we had exchanged stories of early Ogden Dunes.  For most of the past sixty year Ken has had a successful career in publishing and communication both in the private sector and at the University of Syracuse.

In the late summer of 1947, when he was 11, his parents purchased a new home at 76 Ogden Road.   He almost immediately began 6th grade at Crisman School.  That fall he joined 60 other duners in the Portage schools.  Five other boys from Ogden Dunes were in 6th grade, Dave and Dick Leyda, Hugh Daubek, Tommy Murray and Mark Mullin.  Other familiar names were Dave Larson and George Svihla in 2nd grade; Jay Thomas and Tom Tittle in 8th;  Ogden Nickerson, Barbara Funkey, Richard Hallman and Frank Mullin in 9th.  [The Sandpiper, November 7, 1947, p. 4]  The following issue of The Sandpiper (May 5, 1948) announced that the Hine family had settled in on Ogden Road.   The following year, Ken’s sister Janet entered first grade, along with John Avery, Packey Funkey, Sandra Manley, Sally Sykes and Cythia Thomas.

Ken Hine, Sr., took over the leadership of the Boy Scout Troop in 1949.  That same year George Svihla, Sr. became the Chief of the Indian Guides, while Beth Svihla was den mother for the Cub Scouts; Dr. Maurice Avery headed the Gary Crime Commission and Betty Mullin was the first grade teacher at Portage; Mrs. Ken Hine became treasurer of the Woman’s Club. [Sandpiper, September 15, 1949, pp. 1-2].   The following year young Ken passed from the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts.  He became an assistant patrol leader for his father, who continued as Scoutmaster.

In 1954 Ken graduated from Portage High School, where he set a state record for the 440 in track. He was a member of the first Portage football team, played cornet in the school band, organized his own dance band and received his formal introduction as a professional in the publishing world by serving as editor of the Portage High School newspaper.  That fall, he entered Illinois Wesleyan as a freshman.  At mid-year he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.  A year later his parents sold their home on Ogden and moved to Tennessee. Thus, most of his ties with the dunes ended.

As a child Ken loved to draw and to write stories.  He was especially enthralled with the comics, declaring his goal was to create a daily comic strip.  Imitating the professionals he established a studio in his home at 76 Ogden Road, drawing daily strips of his hero, ‘Moran’.  Each week he would share the strip with his buddies, including the extra Friday strip of the romantic liaisons of Moran.  His parents and sister saw only the censored version.  In 1952 his artistic ambitions were heightened by the arrival of Dale Messick, who with her daughter Starr, moved into their home at 43 Shore Drive.   He immediately gathered his strips to take to Dale Messick but his mother said, “no”, wait two weeks for her to get settled, call her to set up an appointment and then share with her your strips.  Ken did this and soon was working for Dale Messick, doing secondary board drawings and taking her boards into the Tribune offices in Chicago.  Shortly after this came his editorship of the school newspaper.  In that year he oversaw it moving from production by the school’s copy machine to being sent to professional printers.  To help pay for the cost of professional printing, he organized the staff to sell ads to local businesses.

After joining the Marine Corps he was assigned to the public relations area, writing columns for the corps daily newspaper.    This led to assignments requiring interaction with private sector publishing, especially magazines.  Following his discharged, he went to New York, working at various times for the Readers’ Digest, Time/Life magazines and Esquire.  With that experience, he began his own art, design and communication firm that became very successful in New York City.   In 1981 the University of Syracuse asked him to come to the university once a week to plan and implement a new major in design and communication.  The program, built on a professional rather than academic model, soon developed a national reputation, graduating an average 35 students a year.   With the program’s successful implementation at the university, he moved his family to Syracuse.  Instead of traveling once a week to Syracuse, he now traveled one or two days a week to his firm in New York City.  After 2000 Ken phased out his involvement in his publication/communication firm and in 2014 fully retired from Syracuse University.