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NPR collector grins and ‘bears’ it

Published:   |   Updated: May 28, 2014 at 09:06 AM

Lillian Kreps is one of those easy people to shop for when Christmas time or birthdays roll around.

With her collection these days somewhere in excess of of 175, Kreps grins and “bears” it.

Now 91, she still gets a big kick out of the stuffed toys, which she tried to assemble all in one place for photos for this article. They covered the living room about as far as the eye could see, and still more around the corner out of sight.

Her friends and fellow members of the Pithlochaskotee Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution rave about her collection.

Kreps volunteers at West Pasco Historical Society, which perhaps is where she caught the collecting bug in the first place since she also keeps many menus and scrap books of everywhere she has traveled.

Picking out a favorite teddy bear is nigh well impossible, Kreps believes.

She has the 100th anniversary teddy bear that resembles the very first toy that derived its name from President Theodore Roosevelt.

But wait, Kreps really likes her bear from the famed German plush toy maker Steiff, English Rose, Mousketeer turned actress Annette Funicello, John Deere and many more.

Straight from the chocolate factory in Pennsylvania is a commemorative teddy bear wearing a Hershey’s shirt.

A bear in a Navy uniform sings “Anchors Aweigh” while another bear croons an Elvis hit song from the 1950s — “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” naturally.

A Humphrey teddy bear also talks about the century-old history of this special type of collectible.

And there are bears for every occasion, a ghost bear for Halloween, patriotic Fourth of July bear, and many, many bears bedecked in Santa suits as well as an elf outfit for Christmas.

Brass Button Bears have the distinction of a button in the ear of each one.

“This one used to smell like ginger” for Christmas, Kreps added.

A recent addition is a Canadian bear from north of the border.

She even has collectible plates depicting teddy bears.

“This one wants to give you a hug,” Kreps said about a bear with extra long arms to wrap around your neck.

Chef Bearnaise might be the closest to Kreps’ favorite since he often sits at the dining room table during meals.

“I love them all,” Kreps commented.

But, please, no more bears as gifts, Kreps pleads. “I have no more space.”

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