Mike Tinkler heads an exclusive club with strict membership requirements and a lofty agenda.
He is president-for-life of the Old Farts Beer Drinkers Club of OFallon, Ill., a quartet of old friends who gather regularly to share stories and suds.
Recounting the origin of the club, Tinkler explained, It all started about five years ago. I was out of work for a while and during that time a guy and I got really close. We had breakfast together with our spouses on Saturday mornings, then we started going up to Cutters in Belleville once every two weeks.
That went along for a while and then I went back to work part time as a certified financial planner with Cambridge Capital Management, which is part of the Diel and Forguson financial group in OFallon, he said.
There, a business relationship Tinkler had with one client grew into a good friendship. So he invited the gentleman to join he and his drinking partner at Cutters for lunch and a couple of beers.
During the get-together the threesome decided their group needed a name. And the name they agreed upon was Old Farts Beer Drinkers Club (OFBDC) of OFallon, Ill.
OFallon was included in the name because the fellow in charge of getting the tee-shirts had it added, he explained.
Once the club had a name, Tinkler, who with wife Barbara has lived for the past 42 years in Fairview Heights, where they reared daughters Diane and Karen, appointed himself president-for-life.
Being president-for-life means I can call for meetings when I feel like it. It is not the first Thursday of the month; it is when I am thirsty, he pointed out.
The OFBDC eventually grew to include five members but with the passing last year of John Bertram its membership roll was reduced to four.
Tinkler said at that point the club organized a ladies auxiliary by including spouses. (His wife appointed herself chairman-for-life of the auxiliary.)
They are not allowed to attend the meetings at Cutters but the spouses get together too, he said. With the addition of an auxiliary, the members decided the OFBDC needed to expand its activities to include things husbands and wives could do as a group, Tinkler said.
So I invited everyone over for Christmas a couple of years ago and we started talking about doing things togetherbig time vacations, he explained.
Last year, we all signed up for an Alaska cruise around Memorial Day. But at the last minute John Bertram had to back out because he was diagnosed with cancer. So my wife, a retired school teacher, had the idea of creating two posters of the couple. We called them Flat Eileen and Flat John. And every place we went, they went. We even took pictures and emailed them back to them.
The club members are easy to spot when they gather at Cutters (which was chosen as the meeting site because the beer is cold and the hamburgers are cheap.) During meetings, its members wear identical optic yellow tee-shirts with Old Farts Beer Drinkers Club of OFallon Ill. emblazoned on the back. And on group tripssuch as the cruise to Nova Scotia they have planned for this Octoberthe members don bright red sweatshirts with similar markings so everyone can find each other.
There is nothing socially redeeming about this group. It is just four guys, Tinkler noted.
And it is really amazing because of the four remaining members only two of us drink beer, he added. He then said, It is amazing how friendships build and where they come from.
If there was a guy I had less in common with on this earth than John Bertram, it would be hard for me to find him, Tinkler said.
He was retired military and he was a big reader. I consider myself functionally illiterate. I am a big baseball fan. He could not have cared less about sports, he said.
But we bonded and we shared so much together, Tinkler said.
That is what this group does, he then pointed out. We always kid about having an agenda but there is no agenda. We say we are going to solve the problems of the world but we are not going to solve any problems. What we are going to do is figure out what our next event is going to be.
Tinkler said beer is still important to the members of the OFBDC and the guys get together every month or two, depending on our schedules, to share a drink. He added, along with the annual big vacations, the members also gather three or four times a year with their wives.
Ask what qualifications are needed to become a member of the OFBDC, Tinkler said. You need to be a friend of Mike. The members have all been friends of Mike and they all come from diverse backgrounds.
Candidates for membership also must be old farts.
Meet Mike Tinkler:
Whom do you most admire?
What is the last book you read?
Right now I am reading James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney. But my favorite books recently have been Unbreakable and Young Pitcher by Zane Grey.
If you could spend time with a famous personpast or presentwhom would it be and why?
I am a big baseball fan so Jack Buck.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I play golf, ride my bike and pitter around the yard.
Whats the usual state of your desktop?
It is pretty organized except when I am doing a big financial plan, then I have everything spread around.
What did you want to do career-wise when you were growing up?
I really wanted to be a radio sports announcer and I did a little bit of that as the voice of Tinkler Sports Productions while I was attending SIU Edwardsville in 1965.... So I had my chance.
What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
I think I get along with peopleI try to keep it easy.
What irritates you most?
People who dont want to cooperate.
What type of music do you listen to?
I like jazz and I like the music of 1960s.
What do you like the most about your job?
The camaraderie and sharing stories.
If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
When they make the movie of your life, who will play you?
It could be John Goodman or Rob Reiner.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?
I would like to have my wife with me.