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Hilton collects awards for his two different passions

Resident honored for brewing, railroad contributions in area

Dec. 11, 2012

It's been quite the year for Jerrold Hilton.

The longtime Brookfield resident has received two major awards in 2012 - one affiliated with his former profession and one for what he simply calls a hobby.

But both are impressive, nonetheless.

He earned the Master Brewers Association of the Americas Distinguished Life Service Award July 30 at the World Brewing Congress in Portland, Ore., and just last month received the 2012 Chuck Zehner Memorial Award, an honor for his service to amateur railroading, at the Milwaukee School of Engineering All-Star Railroad Night lecture series.

Hilton said he was "surprised" by the Zehner Award, but looking at his work in the brewing industry it's not too surprising that he collected the MBAA Award.

"It's a prestigious award," said Hilton, who has lived in Brookfield with his wife, Betty, of 53 years, since 1962.

After serving two years as an officer in the U.S. Army, serving in Korea, he joined The Hilton Company - manufacturers and sellers of beer barrels, ladders, brewing equipment and brewing ingredients, and became president in 1972.

He has been a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas since 1965, and is past president of District Milwaukee.

He served four years as District Milwaukee's representative on the MBAA Board of Governors. Recently retired as Chair of the MBAA Heritage Committee, he was editor-in-chief of the MBAA's quarterly news publication for seven years, and is one of its photographers.

He received the MBAA Award of Honor in 2003.

He has written for New Brewer and Brewers Digest magazines and Brewers Bulletin and Cream City Suds newspapers, and taught classes on the various aspects of hops for the Wisconsin Brewer's Guild, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the MBAA.

In between this, Hilton has made time for his love of railroading.

He calls himself a "lifelong rail fan."

"I got interested in railroad history because my grandfather worked for the Great Northern Railway in St. Paul (Minn.)," Hilton said.

Hilton has applied this love during his 52-year run as a member of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

He was the founder of the former Butler Railroad Days and was influential in making the Butler Public Library a regional railroad resource center.

For his efforts, Hilton became the 11th recipient of the Zehner award, considered the "Oscar of amateur railroading," and goes to individuals who contribute in the promotion of amateur railroading.

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