CINCINNATI - For the past 10 summers, Stan Chesley has made it something of a personal mission to keep the city of Cincinnati's pools open each summer.
On Wednesday, Mayor Mark Mallory thanked Chesley and other contributors publicly for their support.
"Over these years, Stan Chesley has contributed and helped raise over $700,000 to keep our pools open," Mallory said. "Thank you."
Chesley didn't have to contribute any funds this summer. For the first time in years, the city of Cincinnati allocated enough money to keep its pools open this summer, Mallory said, although Crossroads Church contributed $65,000 to keep eight city pools open on Sundays.
Still, Mallory noted that Chesley and others gathered for a sweltering news conference at the newly renovated McKie Pool in Northside have given when they've been needed. Other supporters on hand included representatives of the city's Recreation Foundation, USA Swimming and the American Red Cross. The Kroger Co. has donated in the past, too, Mallory said.
But the star of the show was Chesley, who permanently retired from the practice of law in April, weeks after he was disbarred in Kentucky. The news conference Wednesday was Chesley's first public appearance since being disbarred, and he seemed happy to be there, joking that all the news makers should jump in the pool to cool off.
"Of course Chesley would say, 'Let's do it,'" Mallory said.
The 77-year-old Chesley took the microphone after coaxing a wet little girl from the pool to wave for the TV cameras assembled. "This is what it's all about," he said, lifting her high enough to see over the podium.
"This is, in my opinion, a rite of summer for every one of these kids," he added. "I started this, and I had brown hair, and I was much taller."
Before the news conference, Chesley talked about how, growing up on Burton Avenue in Avondale, he used to ride his bike to swim at the pool at the nearby Jewish community center. When he found out a businessman had donated the money to build the pool, the man became "my hero," Chesley said.
In the years that Chesley has helped the city of Cincinnati keep its pools open, he said, Chesley has heard from people who worked at the pools during the summer who went on to college to become teachers and counselors – all because of their experience at the pools.
"It's not that I'm a swimmer," he said. "It's recreation. This is a positive, fabulous thing."