Living Local Legend: The story behind the name of the Tyler Hist - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Living Local Legend: The story behind the name of the Tyler History Center

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

She is a civic leader and a philanthropist whose family helped build the Mahoning Valley. 

Jeanne Tyler has made a lasting impression on Youngstown with a museum named in her honor. 

At 92, she continues to keep the stories of the Valley's history alive.

Etched into Youngstown's skyline, Jeanne Tyler's impact on preserving a local landmark is clear.  

"Here's a building you have to see, here's a building you have to see. I said here's a building we have to buy," said Tyler when it came to looking for a new building for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

She was on the Board at the time and others who were serving with her agreed. 

The historical society bought the historic Harry Burt/Ross Radio Building on West Federal Street in September of 2007. The now 92-year-old helped provide the capital and the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center was born, named after Jeanne.

The center is home to local history exhibits, archives and a ballroom for events but it is also where the Good Humor bar was first mass produced. 

"When I read the story about the Burt building and my mother had remembered going tea dancing there and it was a good building." After that, she said that she knew it was the right one.

Jeanne's mother, Marion Struthers Thomas Deibel, was a direct descendant of John Struthers, one of the first settlers of Poland Township. His son Thomas laid out the village of Struthers.

"Downtown Struthers was his farm," she said.

Jeanne is also related to Stephen Foster, the father of American music, who wrote classics like "Oh! Susanna." Mary Foster, Stephen Foster's aunt, was married to John Struthers.

During World War I, Jeanne's father, Cyril "Cy" Deibel, was ward master of U.S.A. Base Hospital 31 organized out of Youngstown. He came back and ran General Dry Batteries in Cleveland which we know today as Duracell.

His uniform and footlocker is on display in the costume gallery that bears Jeanne's name in the Arms Family Museum.  Her father encouraged her to become involved in civic projects.

"My father said to me, 'You're going to go to (University of) Michigan and you're going to graduate, but you're not going to take any paying job when you get through.' I said, 'I'm not?' and he said, 'No, you don't need it. A lot of people need them and you're not to take them away from them."

She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in economics. It is a promise that she kept to her father, even after taking half a year off during her junior year, when her father died. 

She married John Tyler in 1947 and they moved to the Mahoning Valley in 1949. He served as a lawyer, secretary and assistant treasurer for American Welding in Warren.

Jeanne dedicated her life to civic, health care and animal welfare organizations. She served on numerous boards and held the position of president for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, Visiting Nurse Association and Planned Parenthood. She also served on the boards of Stambaugh Auditorium, Woman's Board of Forum Health, Forum Health, Junior League and Fellows Riverside Gardens.

"I've been very happy doing it. I've met lots of nice people and it has just been a wonderful thing for me," she said.

At one point they thought about moving back to Cleveland.  "I said to John, 'I like my Youngstown friends better' and he said, 'I'm glad you said that because I do too.' So that was the end of that."

Locals continue to reap the benefits of her generosity at another site- Stambaugh Auditorium's Jeanne D. Tyler Grand Ballroom.

Now she is planning a dinner party for her 93rd birthday next month and she still keeps up with stocks and what is happening at the museum. She encourages others to learn about the Valley's roots.  "I think they should come here often and see what we have and what's happened in Youngstown and the people who made things happen."

She is one of those people. A notable civic leader and philanthropist- who used her Fortune 500 executive mindset to make a difference.

Jeanne's brother William Deibel has written a book about the battery industry and their father's role in it. Their father pioneered the miniaturization of batteries for hearing aids. During World War II, he designed tiny batteries for walkie talkies for the Army Signal Corps and giant submersible units for the Navy. The book is almost ready to be published. 

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