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September 2009

A Lifelong Love Bill and Betsy Rezel don’t like just one thing about the Milwaukee County Zoo…they like everything! For over a quarter-century, the Rezels have supported the Zoo in several ways. They have been members of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) since 1984. They have been members of Zoo Pride, the ZSM’s volunteer auxiliary, since 2004. And last April, the Rezels increased their financial commitment to the Zoo and the ZSM by becoming members of the Platypus Society, the ZSM’s highest-level, donor-member recognition group. However, their love of the Zoo goes back even further. “I remember visiting the gibbons at Washington Park Zoo when I was a kid. And I remember going to the Milwaukee County Zoo when it was new,” says Betsy. Her husband, Bill, also has memories dating back decades: “I remember being brought to the Zoo when I was a kid. My favorite part was anything dealing with the Safari trains. And of course, I can still remember seeing Samson the silverback [gorilla].” Betsy and Bill have always shared their lifelong love of the Zoo with their two daughters, Sara and Beth. Now that their daughters are grown and have their own families, Bill and Betsy can share the Zoo with yet another generation, their 2-year-old granddaughter, Isabel. “Izzy loves the farm with the cows, goats and playground,” says Betsy. “And she loves the tigers and the rest of the new feline house [the Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country.] We think it’s such a great design for children.” One of the reasons why the Rezels like the Zoological Society of Milwaukee so much is because they strongly believe in both its conservation and education missions. In the 125 hours or so per year that they put in as volunteers in Zoo Pride, they serve on the continuing education committee and are the chairpersons for the Zoological Society special events committee (for such fund-raisers as the annual family bike ride in September). “They both give so much of themselves and their time. If they are not busy chairing an event, they attend and bring their family,” says Lynn Wilding, ZSM volunteer services coordinator. “But their giving does not stop there. They are always ready to offer services in other areas of need. Bill is a great resource when it comes to technical needs or computer issues, and Betsy is always a positive influence when dealing with sensitive situations. The Rezels are great examples of dedicated volunteers.”

Photo by Dale Gray

In April, at a breakfast meeting held specifically for Zoo Pride members, Betsy and Bill learned more about the Platypus Society. They decided that now would be a perfect time to join and extend their support of the ZSM. The Rezels’ dedication to the Zoo spans generations. Bill and Betsy have enjoyed the Zoo as visitors, Zoological Society members, volunteers, and now as donors. Their commitment to the Zoo never waivers because, in the words of Betsy Rezel, “supporting the Milwaukee County Zoo makes us feel like we are actually making a difference.” By Brianne Schwantes

PLATYPUS SOCIETY STEERING COMMITTEE Robert Anger Paul Cadorin Dr. Bert Davis Gerald Dias Mary Ellen Enea Mike Grebe Karen Peck Katz Maria Gonzalez Knavel Joe Kresl (chairman) James Kuehn Daniel F. McKeithan Jr. Shelley Mechenich Deborah Musante Bernard J. Peck Joan Prince, Ph.D. Andrew T. Sawyer Jr. Judy Holz Stathas

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DEVELOPMENT STAFF Katie Hess Annual Giving & Events Coordinator Lisa Ruidl Development Assistant Cassie Jeffery Grant Writer

NEWSLETTER STAFF Paula Brookmire Editor & Writer Julia Kolker, Brianne Schwantes Writers Kevin de Wane Designer Richard Brodzeller Photographer (unless otherwise noted)

The Platy Press is a newsletter for members of the Platypus Society. The Platypus Society is the highest level, donor-member-recognition group in the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s network of support. Members include about 375 area foundations, businesses and individuals contributing more than $700,000 annually with in-kind services and support. The Platy Press is published four times a year by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, 10005 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226.

From left are Cory Nettles, Michael Grebe, John Bannen and Quinn Martin. The men are Platypus Society members and attorneys at the law firm Quarles & Brady.

upporters Ask four partners from the Milwaukee law firm Quarles & Brady why they joined the Platypus Society, and each will give you a different take on supporting the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s (ZSM’s) highest-level donor group. For Michael Grebe, a patron “Platy” member, it’s about creating great childhood memories. Growing up, Grebe came to the Milwaukee County Zoo to see the famous Samson the gorilla. Today, he visits the Zoo with his wife, Kelly, and their four children: Tripp, 8, Bridger, 7, Griffin, 3, and Essex, 1. As a member of the ZSM’s Board of Directors, Grebe appreciates the Zoo’s role in the city’s cultural landscape. “The Platypus Society helps support the Zoo for future generations,” he says. Grebe was inspired to join the Platypus Society by his colleague Quinn Martin, a Platy member since the group began in 1982. (Martin has also served on the ZSM’s Board of Directors since 1990 and is a past chairman of the Board.) “The Platypus Society is a different way of supporting the Zoo,” he says. Over the years Martin has contributed to Zoo projects and renovations, such as the “jewel box” enclosure in the aviary, home to birds such as honeycreepers and crimson-backed tanagers. He and his wife also donated the Quinn and Jane Martin West Giraffe Yard in the MillerCoors Giraffe Experience, a remodeled giraffe exhibit that

Platypus Picnic

Photo by Dale Gray

About 350 people attended the Platypus Society annual family picnic on August 5. Down on the farm was the theme, as Platy members fed goats, met Wisconsin animals and picnicked. Shown here are patron Platypus members who are also Zoo Pride volunteers (from left): Judy and Jerry O’Callaghan and Patricia and Dennis Harton.

opened in 2006. “The Zoo is a venue for families to learn about animals in a safe and educational setting,” he says. Fellow Quarles & Brady attorney Cory Nettles says the Platypus Society keeps him “in the know” about ZSM events, news and management. It’s important for donors to be engaged with the nonprofit and its directors, he explains. “As a financial supporter, one of the things I pay most attention to is the strength of the executive leadership and the Board. I’m absolutely convinced that Dr. Robert Davis, ZSM president and CEO, is one of the strongest leaders in the non-profit community.” It’s no coincidence that so many Quarles & Brady attorneys are Platypus Society members. The law firm encourages involvement in the community, says attorney John Bannen, who joined the Platypus Society last April as a patron member. As an estate planner, he’s also a member of the Simba Society, the ZSM’s planned-giving group, and serves on its steering committee. Why did he choose to support the ZSM? “I think that the Zoo is one of Milwaukee’s treasures; it’s well-run and well-managed. It’s one of the things that keeps Milwaukee a great city.”

By Julia Kolker

Development Office 10005 W. Blue Mound Rd. Milwaukee, WI 53226 (414) 276-0843

Please remember the Zoological Society in your will or estate plan. printed on recycled paper 4180H09

New-Member Profile San Diego for 13 years and were very involved with the San Diego Zoo. When we moved back to Milwaukee, it inspired us to get involved with the Milwaukee County Zoo. Our kids, Enzo, 7 (left foreground in photo), and Mario, 4 (in stroller in photo), really love the Zoo. The Zoological Society’s CEO, Dr. Robert Davis, encouraged us to join, and has really become a dear friend. Personal history with Zoological Society and Milwaukee County Zoo: Gino: My family and I have always been big animal lovers. I love seeing the monkeys and the chimpanzees; the boys are really into bigger animals like elephants and hippos. The Platypus Society is very welcoming; the members are awesome, and the events are incredible. We like VIP tours for Platypus Society members, my sons pressured me to do the overnight campout, Snooze at the Zoo, and my wife wants to come to the wine tasting in February. There’s something for everyone! Why the Platypus Society is important: The Zoo is such a Milwaukee icon. It’s one of the longest-running, oldest attractions in the state. It’s something that needs to be supported forever.

Calendar Photo by Dale Gray

Oct. 1

Platypus Society Recognition Dinner, 6 p.m., Peck Welcome Center; look for your invitation in the mail.

Oct. 23 & 24

Boo at the Zoo, sponsored by westbury bank, 6-9 p.m.*

Names: Gino and Lynn Carini Gino is vice president of business development at the Jansen Group, which helped the Milwaukee County Zoo remodel its library Web site (for Jansen Group): Cell: (414) 721-6888 City: Fox Point Reason you joined the Platypus Society: Gino: I grew up in Milwaukee and went to the Zoo. Later, my wife and I lived in

Oct. 24 Wolf Awareness Day at the Zoo*

Oct. 30 & 31

Halloween Trick-or-Treat Spooktacular, sponsored by westbury bank; Oct. 30, 6-9 p.m., Oct. 31, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.*

Nov. 7 & Dec. 5

Family Free Day at the Zoo, sponsored by North Shore Bank & FOX 6, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.*

Nov. 14

Zoological Society members’ holiday trip to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile*

Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20

Breakfast and Lunch with Santa, sponsored by Racine Danish Kringles; to get on Zoo mailing list, call (414) 256-5466 after Oct. 1 *For more information, call (414) 258-2333 or go online at

Platy Press September 2009  
Platy Press September 2009  

The September 2009 issue of The Platy Press, a publication for Platypus Society members of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee