Monday, May 10, 2004

Party guy stays up late

Newport alum, 89, helps out

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT - Bill Brinkmann just turned 89. He's doing his best to slow down a little.

On Friday, all he did was buy supplies to make 250 milkshakes and sundaes. Then he stopped by the Village Players Theater in Fort Thomas, where he is co-producing a show.

Then, around 10 p.m., Brinkmann headed to his volunteer shift at Newport High School's after-prom party.

Last year, he served ice cream until 5 a.m., when the party ended. This weekend, considering his advanced age and all, he cut out at 2 a.m.

"Twelve o'clock is late for me, anymore," says Brinkmann.

He and his wife, Stella, 88, are volunteers extraordinaire.

The Brinkmanns, married for 64 years and the parents of two daughters, have always been involved with community theater. For years, they also ran a dance night for teenagers at their church, St. Mark's Lutheran in Newport.

And they still volunteer about 40 hours a month at St. Luke's Hospital East, where they answer phones and help patients to their cars.

"I have trouble keeping up with them, to be honest," says daughter Nancy Bay of Cold Spring.

The Brinkmanns were sweethearts at Newport High School. Now they're active with the alumni association.

Last year, parent Jim Hesch approached the association about serving ice cream at the after-prom party, which keeps teenagers safe and entertained.

The members didn't exactly jump up and down.

"Mr. Brinkmann said, 'Well, I'll volunteer and get some people,'" Hesch recalls. "They kind of thought he was crazy."

That's how Brinkmann found himself making sundaes at 2 a.m. on Saturday, with Bay and her husband, Roger, at his side.

The instinct to nurture is in their blood. Brinkmann's mother was known around Newport as "Mom Brinkmann." Neighborhood kids were always welcome.

The Brinkmanns have the same policy. And if they're needed in the wee hours after prom, so be it.

"I know the kids are safe," Brinkmann says.



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