Sunday, June 02, 2002

Collector has bear essentials - 1,640 of them

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Janet Burdsall, 48, a medical secretary for the department of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine who owns a honey of a bear collection.

        On display: Her collection of 1,640 bear items, including stuffed animals, ceramic knickknacks, Christmas ornaments, bath towels, mugs, framed pictures, clothing and jewelry.

        Where: Throughout the Clermont County home she shares with her husband, Chuck, and their 4-month-old Labrador retriever/chow mix puppy, Toni.

        In the beginning: Mrs. Burdsall can't remember exactly when she started collecting the fuzzy creatures, but she thinks the first few were gifts from suitors when she was a teen-ager. She says she kept them because “unlike love letters, you don't throw bears away!”

        Love token: Bears have also played a role in Mr. and Mrs. Burdsall's romance. Since they started dating in December 1993, her husband has given her 460 bears.

        “I didn't start naming bears until my husband started giving them to me,” she says. “The first was named Dillon. We picked him up on vacation when we were in the town of Dillon, Colo.”

        The couple's favorite teddy is their traveling companion named Pesky.

        Stowaway: “My husband is the one who started it,” Mrs. Burdsall says with a chuckle. “We were going rock climbing in North Carolina and he stuck him in my suitcase. I opened it up that night and asked, "What is this bear doing in here?' ”

        Mr. Burdsall replied in mock seriousness, “He wanted to go with us.”

        That was a year ago. Since then, Pesky has gone to what Mrs. Burdsall describes as “innumerable places,” including a murder mystery train trip, an airplane ride and her office Christmas party. They have taken Pesky's photo at each destination and have filled an album with his exploits.

        Puppy love: More recently, the couple's attention has been focused on their puppy.

        “Everyone says that she looks like a teddy bear,” Mrs. Burdsall says with a grin.

        Good luck! Toni has been given a teddy bear of her own to chew on. But she is being trained to stay away from the others. Mrs. Burdsall has also “puppy-proofed” her collection by putting the better bears out of reach.

        Mrs. Burdsall keeps an inventory of her bears and who gave them to her. That list includes friends, family, co-workers, even acquaintances she has met riding the bus. “Bears make me happy,” she says. “When I look at them, it seems that they are always smiling. They have a positive attitude, and I like that.”

        Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold. Mail: c/o The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., 45202. E-mail:


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