Homer Hiner quietly becomes newest Chief of Flint Springs Tribe

Mike Perkins (left), the 2016 Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe, poses with 2017 Chief Homer Hiner after presenting the award to Hiner during the Heritage Days kick-off breakfast Thursday, June 15, at the Historic Forks of the Wabash.
Mike Perkins (left), the 2016 Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe, poses with 2017 Chief Homer Hiner after presenting the award to Hiner during the Heritage Days kick-off breakfast Thursday, June 15, at the Historic Forks of the Wabash. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Homer Hiner walked to the podium, offered a five-word thank you, and walked back to his seat.

That’s about what you’d expect from Huntington’s newest Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe.

Hiner has always been a behind-the-scenes guy, 2016 Chief Mike Perkins said as he announced the tribe’s 49th chief during the Heritage Days kick-off breakfast on Thursday, June 15.

But, Perkins added, “You get things done.”

“Thank you, everybody,” Hiner said. “Thank you.”

Hiner did return to the podium moments later to read the proclamation officially opening Heri-tage Days, which contin-ued through Sunday, June 18.

The honor for Hiner continues a tradition of recognizing someone who has made Huntington County “a desirable place to live, work and prosper.”

Hiner’s wife, Marj Hiner, was named a chief in 1989, and the two are often seen working to-gether at community events.

In fact, Perkins joked, Hillary Clinton borrowed her 2016 presidential campaign slogan — “I’m with her” — from Homer Hiner.

Hiner leads by example, Perkins said, embodying generosity, helpfulness, humility and kindness.

“Deeds are more important to you than words,” he said of Hiner. “You have often been the guiding force behind the success of whatever endeavor you support.”

Hiner, who grew up as a Huntington County farm boy, served on a United States Navy destroyer after high school and returned home to open a diesel engine repair shop.

He started driving trucks and, after winning hauling contracts with several local businesses, turned his company into a regional carrier. With the support of his office manager and eventual wife, his initial three-truck operation grew to include 132 tractors, 360 trailers and 152 employees.

The couple has since sold Hiner Transport.

Even while growing his business, Hiner involved himself in the community.

“Your bywords were, ‘Tell me what to do and I’ll do it,’” Perkins said.

Some of Hiner’s many projects over the past 50 years have included a BMX track at Lake Clare, a muzzleloader range, multiple Heritage Days events and the con-struction of two ticket booths for the ABWA Brat Tent.

He’s a member of the Huntington County Sports Hall of Fame for his high school basketball accomplishments and has been awarded an honorary doctorate of commercial sciences by Huntington University.

“You personify the ideal quiet chief,” Perkins said.

Huntington University, Parkview Health, Ball State University, the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and the Historic Forks of the Wabash have all benefited from Hiner’s generosity, Perkins added.

The presentation capped a morning of celebration as Huntington’s annual festival got underway.

Scott Trauner, the morning’s master of ceremonies, introduced Little Miss Heritage Days Nora McDaniel and Junior Miss Heritage Days Brookelynn Rae Buzzard, who had been crowned the previous evening, along with city and county leaders and past Chiefs of the Flint Springs Tribe  in attendance, before turning the microphone over to Perkins.

Perkins, reflecting on his selection as chief a year earlier, said receiving the honor was an incredible experience.

“I had seen others receive their awards,” he said. “I’d watched them react with shock and maybe the slightest hint of panic as they made their way toward the podium to receive their plaque. That’s because you never think it’s going to be you.

“You look at the long list of past chiefs and there are names of men and women you have always admired. They’re people who have made a difference for the good in our community. But you never put yourself in their company.

“That’s because you can’t. It’s not your call. The chiefs reach out to you. They invite you in. And with that invitation comes the expectation that you will uphold the high standards of leadership and commitment that they have displayed.

“Being this past year’s Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe has been the greatest public honor of my life.”