By Melody Vallieu
Miami Valley Today
Would have been 24
TROY — When Troy’s Christmas tree is illuminated this season, it will be in honor of two very special people to Joanne Hinkle.
Hinkle donated the Colorado Blue Spruce from her side yard for this year’s downtown holiday centerpiece in honor of her husband, Rod Hinkle, who passed away in 2013, and her granddaughter, Katie Cruea, who died in 2016, just shy of her 24th birthday.
Hinkle said her family moved to Troy in 1978, after learning of a “nice little Ohio town” from one of her husband’s military friends he was then stationed with at Fort Sill, Okla. She is originally from New York, Rod was from Pennsylvania, and they wanted to live somewhere in between, she said.
“He grew up here, and told my husband about it, and we were about ready to retire from the military, so we came between the week of Christmas and New Year’s before he retired and loved it and moved here,” Hinkle said. “(Rod) wanted to be near somewhere with industry so he could find a job, wanted to be close to a military base they weren’t going to close so we could use our benefits, and near interstate access, and Troy had all of these things.
“It’s turned out to be really good for us. We never regretted coming,” she said.
When they moved to their Croydon Road home in 2000, Hinkle said the tree was about 6 feet tall, but said according to city staff, the tree now stands between 30-32 feet tall. She said over the years the tree had begun to block her view of watching her great-grandchildren playing in the yard, and regularly ripped her US flag on the flagpole near the tree.
Hinkle said her husband, for years, would decorate the tree for every holiday, often with the help of Katie.
“My husband would go out every holiday and light it until it was growing where he couldn’t handle it anymore,” Hinkle said. “Now it’s taking up the whole yard.”
Hinkle said she offered the tree to the city in 2019, and staff came out last summer and said the tree was healthy, and if it remained in good shape, they would like to have it for the 2020 holiday season.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Hinkle said. “I thought that it would be a wonderful thing to donate it and do it in memory of my husband and my granddaughter, who both used to put the lights on the tree.”
Hinkle said her daughters are coming over to watch the tree be removed from her property and they will then follow it downtown to watch it be erected on the Public Square.
“I think it’s just wonderful,” she said. “We love Troy. It was a great place to raise kids. It’s going to be something special for all of us.”