Meet William (just call me ‘Bill’) and Phyllis Shakespeare of Topaz Lake |

Meet William (just call me ‘Bill’) and Phyllis Shakespeare of Topaz Lake

by Nancy Hamlett

What’s in a name? According to William Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But another William Shakespeare says that a name can be a nuisance to a kid growing up.

“I got teased all the time,” said Bill Shakespeare, who lives at Topaz Lake. “But I grew up faster than most and put a stop to it.”

Shakespeare said that even today the teasing can bother him. There is a good way and a bad way to tease. Snickers and laughter aren’t his idea of good teasing. Especially when the snickers are tinged with mocking disbelief.

“I’ll pay for something with a credit card and wait,” said Shakespeare. “Some people don’t say a word, even though I can see a kind of recognition in their eyes. It’s the ones that make a big deal of it that get on my nerves.”

William Shakespeare isn’t an uncommon name. Pick up a phone book in any large city and you are likely to find a few listed. However, Bill Shakespeare feels as though his life has taken the name recognition one step farther than most.

n Isn’t it ironic? “I have a good friend, his name is Macbeth,” said Shakespeare with a chuckle. “How’s that for irony?”

Shakespeare and his wife, Phyllis, visited the Topaz Lake area many times before deciding to purchase a home there three years ago. Shakespeare wasn’t quite ready to retire from the dental laboratory business, and it wasn’t until one year ago that they moved in on a permanent basis. Since then they have adapted quickly to life in a small town.

“There aren’t a lot of people in Douglas County, especially at Topaz Lake, but it really isn’t what I’d call a small town, with a small town attitude,” said Shakespeare. “There is always something going on . . . sometimes two or three things. Last year we made it to both the Candy Dance and Oktoberfest, which were on the same weekend. I don’t think we’ll be as lucky this year.”

Shakespeare and Phyllis now have added responsibilities that will require that they stay closer to home. Less than two weeks ago they bought the Coleville Inn, an antique store on Highway 395 in Coleville, CA.

“I’m the official greeter,” said Shakespeare. “This is Phyllis’ and our daughter, Debi’s business. I’m around to do the things that they can’t do.”

Right now that includes sorting through piles of sheet music that belonged to his mother’s and refurbishing a grandfather clock.

“I have a house full of clocks, including a collection of cuckoo clocks,” said Shakespeare. “And you can’t get them all set exactly. They all go off at a little different time.”

As Shakespeare led a tour through the pleasantly cluttered antique store, he pointed out where the bar and restaurant used to be when the building really was an inn back in the 1940s.

n A little off color? “The history of this place is a little off color,” he said. “During the war years it was a house of ill repute, and the madam’s name was Eveready Eddie.” He laughed as he opened the doors to the bedrooms, each with a private bath. “Phyllis and I thought of operating a bed and breakfast, but that would really tie us down. It isn’t something we are interested in doing.”

Shakespeare is a third generation Californian who grew up in the southern part of the state. He and Phyllis have been married for 29 years, and have four children. Keith and Ricky still live in southern California. Michael lives in Seattle. And their daughter, Debi, recently moved to Coleville with her husband, Robert Wasser.

“We have seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild,” said Shakespeare. “Our great-granddaughter makes the sixth generation of our family to be born in California.”

Shakespeare says that he is just now starting to enjoy the freedom of semi-retirement by golfing and fishing, and exploring the dirt roads. He has no regrets about leaving his home and friends in California.

“I love it up here, especially when I woke up the other day and saw that snow on the mountains,” said Shakespeare. “But I also think I’ll enjoy traveling around the country to scout for antiques. We’ll load up Debi’s and Robert’s motor home and hit the road.”

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