We’ll think of Bill, and smile

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published February 28, 1996 in The Suburban Life, added February 10, 2018.

Bill Wagner flashes his trademark smile in the staff lounge at the Madeira library. He retired from his job there Feb. 23.

A wide smile disappeared from the Madeira library Feb. 23.

That smile belonged to Bill Wagner, who retired last week and took his smile with him along with his sense of humor.

Bill first came to work at the Madeira Branch Library in August 1980 when Ellis Burch retired.  Before that he had worked for the library at other Hamilton County locations, mostly on the east side, since 1971.

In his years tat the Madeira branch he had become the man everyone depended on to do things to keep the place running.  If a rambunctious, unleashed toddler turned over one of the huge potted plants, Bill got the vacuum and cleaned it up.

Back in January, Janie Pyle, the branch librarian, talked about the things Bill did beyond the call of duty and the many ways the staff will miss him.

“For years,” she said, “he has kept the coffee pot going.  We depend on him for that.  And when it’s icy, we’ll go out and find he has put salt by our cars so we won’t slip when we come out to go home.

“He just keeps us all tied together,” she said.  “We even call him at home, at times, when something goes wrong.  ‘Hold on five minutes and I’ll be right up.’ he’ll tell us.

“It takes people like Bill to notice and to do things for others.  He has even brought in Christmas decorations to put up that he bought out of his own pocket.”

“We teased him and told him we were going to get him a beeper.  But he just sees things that should be done and he does them.”

Bill used to do all the yard work and mow the grass around the library up until the library expanded and remodeled.  Then a landscape service took over.

He says he enjoyed the yard work.

“I like outside work,” he said, “but this job is not boring.  There’s always something to do.”

In fact, Bill gets along with most everyone.  He greets everyone with a smile or a wave of the hand, or both.

“Bill is a great PR asset,” Pyle said.  “He makes people feel at home.  He’s so personable and he talks to people who come in the library.  That’s so important for people to be recognized and for them to know who you are.”

Bill’s friendliness and PR abilities may stem from the fact that he grew up in the south.  Well, a little bit south.  He grew up in Newport, Ky., and still has family living there.

After he retires he plans to spend some time in Florida visiting a daughter, but he doesn’t plan to move there.  He’ll continue to live here at his home and life will go on much the same.  But more leisurely.

“I just want to quit while I can still do things,” he said, “so that I can have time to do things that I want to do.”

He says he’ll have plenty to do after he quits his job.

“I never get bored,” he said, “but if I did, I’d just jump in the car and take a two- or three-hour ride., you have to stay active.”

Back in January, Bill was spotted reading Gourmet magazine in the staff lounge while on a break.  But he swears that was an isolated incident.

“I’m not going to spend my retirement reading Gourmet magazine or baking pies,” he said.  “Oh, I give my microwave a good workout.  And I do have a stove, but it’s not hooked up.”

On Saturday, March 2, from 1 to 3 P.m., the library staff will throw a little party and reception for Bill in the community room at the library.

There’ll be refreshments and you’re all invited.  So come on down and have a spot of coffee with Bill.

Tell him you’ll miss him and get a load of that smile.  After that day, Bill will be gone.  And so will the smile.