It’s a beary happy house

Donna Reitz is “beary” happy to greet visitors.

She and her hundreds of Teddy bears that is.

Donna’s home is bursting with happy bears, literally hundreds of them in every shape size and material … stuffed bears, clay bears, bears on pot holders, towels, mugs and canisters, a Teddy bear rug, a bear hanging from a pull chain, and the night light in the bathroom. She has nearly 20 Boyds bears, Santa bears, even a 100th anniversary Teddy bear that resembles Theodore Roosevelt, the namesake of the lovable toys.

Donna and her husband, Dale, a United Methodist minister, retired from their Sykesville charge in 2002 and moved to Warren County with dozens of bears. The collection began when Rev. Reitz gave Donna her first bear in 1996, and it still graces the bed Rev. Reitz makes up every morning. The collection has grown since the move and includes bears gracing three Christmas trees on view in their home.

Donna, 78, knows the story to each hugable bear and is happy to share its origin and special characteristics. A couple of the bears Donna constructed herself at Build-A-Bear, a Red Hat bear and a cheerleader bear.

“That was something great,” she said of her visits to Build-A-Bear.

Her favorite is an angel bear that plays “Yes, Jesus Loves Me,” given to her by her daughter, Tammy. The couple also has a daughter, Lisa.