by Kevin Ryan
Animal welfare and sheltering can be an exhausting business. Every day seems like a life-and-death footrace, mostly because our hard work does indeed result in lives saved. That’s a lot of pressure. This pressure is compounded by the fact that Nevada Humane Society has forged a local and national reputation that makes “adequate” or “good” unacceptable. Our community, volunteers and stakeholders demand extraordinary results. Complacency is not an option and “more” has become our watchword. All of this can seem daunting, yet just last week I was given a heavy dose of perspective.
Paul “Bud” Tholl, a Nevada Humane Society board member and visionary leader of 50-plus years, passed away in late 2013. Sadly, I never really had the chance to know him; we met on a few occasions and had passing conversations. I did have the good fortune to witness the calm wisdom and determination that he brought to our organization’s leadership and the reverence and esteem in which he was held in by all. One could assume this was a sign of respect given to a person of a certain age and in recognition of a half century of service, yet that deferential treatment was earned every day in every way. Tholl occupied no emeritus position on the NHS Board of Directors; he was active, committed and diligent until the end of his life. He put his energy where his heart was. That would be enough to earn our thanks, but there’s so much more.
Last Friday, I sat in a packed ballroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, listening to speakers extol the virtues of Paul “Bud” Tholl at his memorial service. Trooper Chuck Allen, vice president of the NHS board, celebrated and offered one last thank you to Tholl and his family for the service, leadership and generosity he gave freely to our organization. Then, speaker after speaker stood behind the podium and heralded his good works. His altruism was far from limited to NHS or animals alone. I learned that Tholl gave of his time and resources to countless worthy causes throughout our community, from Rotary to Make-a-Wish. Truly, a man apart.
One speaker caught me off guard. He said he once asked Tholl why he gave so much of himself to NHS and why animals?
His cited response, “Animals can’t speak for themselves. If I don’t take care of them, who will?” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The hustle and bustle and stress of life in the shelter fast lane faded with his simple yet profound statement. If not us, who?
Much was made last Friday about the little green Tholl Fencing signs that pervade our community and how those now dot heaven. I have no doubt that is true — he certainly left such a sign on NHS and in all of our hearts.