Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Bill Stoll's retirement for the birds




By JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is the thanks Bill Stoll gets after volunteering 17 years at the zoo: Dirty dishes. Dirty bird dishes at that.

        But it's National Volunteer Week (April 23-29), so he grins and bears it.

        Stoll is an 83-year-old Northern Kentuckian who volunteers in the zoo's birdhouse, Krohn Conservatory, Museum Center and Children's Museum “because I don't play golf. What else do you do four days a week?”

        Known around the zoo as Baldie, he's in his third retirement: He retired from the Marines in '62 and went to get his doctorate; he retired in '82 from NKU as emeritus professor of psychology; he retired again from NKU in '87 after being coaxed back in '83.

        So now he's really retired and, washing dishes, feeding birds and, gulp, cleaning cages.

        Except when he's stationed on zoo grounds, most often at the birdhouse or Insect World, answering questions about exhibits.

        But why? At 83, well, that's time for walks on the beach.

        “A friend asked me that. He said, "Why the hell do you volunteer all the time and not get paid?' I figure the government paid my way so long I ought to pay back.”

        Debut: Meanwhile, off at center stage, look who just made her Broadway debut: 15-year-old Jennifer Buescher, a sophomore at Mount Notre Dame. She turned up Saturday in Fame at the Aronoff.

        Jennifer, see, is a trained dancer (13 years) and major Broadway fan. She also has cystic fibrosis.

        Enter Pam Koch, volunteer director of the Middletown chapter of Dream Factory and mother of the late Tory Koch, who lost her CF battle in '95.

        She was working on Jennifer's wish — go to New York, see shows, get a walk-on — and decided the Fame deal would be a cool first installment. So, she met with Broadway Series manager Van Ackermanand cooked up the debut.

        News of the debut “turned her around,” mother Becky Buescher says. “She hadn't been feeling well, but this has really helped, especially since a whole passel of relatives and neighbors” showed up for it.

        Koch is working on the next installment of Jennifer's dream.

        Messy Easter: For everyone who ever wondered, the answer is yes. Give three white lions a giant sheet cake and, yep, they're going to wear it. Eat some, but wear most.

        That from keeper Pat Callahan, the guy who cares for Sunshine, Future (males) and Prosperity (female), the white lions that illusionists Siegfried and Roy sent to the zoo in '98 but keep in touch with through visits and phone calls.

        And cakes. For Easter, they sent the lions a sheet cake (sugar free because you can't be giving lions cavities) decorated with a pastel seasonal theme. The lions took a header into it long about 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

        And, just like everyone thought, wound up wearing more than they ate.

        Oh yeah, Siegfried and Roy sent the keepers working Easter an even larger sheet cake. As nearly as we can tell, none of them ended up wearing it.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

        KNIPPENBERG ARCHIVE