8/26/1941 – 8/26/2016
MASTER CAT-A-TAT BUILDER
Vernon Stairs was our Master Builder from 1996- 2016. He designed, built and maintained all of the cat-a-tats and facilities. He was a business owner until he retired and came to Big Cat Rescue to help build a pond. His feats include construction of a 2.5 acre Vacation Rotation enclosure, the 22,000 sf FunCation, the tiger lake marsh, dueling waterfalls and ponds for the fishing cats, an air conditioned rock mountain for the snow leopards, underground dens, overhead sprinklers and so much more for the comfort of the hundreds of exotic cats who spent their latter years on Easy Street.
He is remembered daily by the animals, staff and guests for his work and will be remembered for many years to come in the lasting improvements he has made to the quality of life for each of the animals. Even after having triple bypass heart surgery in August of 2010, he was right back at work as soon as he could get to his feet.
Vernon met Barbara at WEDU in Tampa in 1959, where he was a camera man and she was a secretary. They married in 1960. Carole was born to them in 1961 and Chuck was born to them in 1967. Grandchildren, working at Big Cat Rescue include Jamie Veronica Boorstein, born in 1980 to Carole and Katie Nikic, born in 1989 to Chuck.
Tribute to Vernon Stairs on His 75th Birthday
Longer version with clips of him talking with family members:
Today 8/26/16 is his 75th birthday.
Here is an Instagram clip of him signing to the sound of George Jones that was captured by his granddaughter Katie in 2015:
Vern had a flair for re-writing famous poems, songs and speeches.
Vern’s Gettysburg International Address
In 1824 our forefather, William Wilberforce, brought forth on this planet, a new notion, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition, that all creatures are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great and un-civil war, testing whether that notion, or any notion so conceived and so dedicated, can overcome barbaric cultures.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war that spans all places. We have come to dedicate that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives, that that notion might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, women and countless animals, living and dead, who struggled to co-exist, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this notion, that all creatures are created equal, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that goal, that we shall all live in peace, shall not perish from the earth.