Dayton man who has lived a life of defying the odds is now in need of a kidney

Bill Northcutt inside the Centerville Boston Stoker.
Bill Northcutt inside the Centerville Boston Stoker.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Bill Northcutt’s stories have paired well with hot cups of Boston Stoker coffee for decades.

Northcutt has lived a life of dodging bullets, although there were two bullets he could not avoid.

In 1963, on the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Northcutt was shot twice by accident by a friend on a hunting trip in North Carolina. Before most hunters wore brightly colored hunting gear, Northcutt and his friends were wearing camouflaged clothes.

It was a rainy November day when 22-year-old Northcutt began to slip on slick brush on the side of the mountain. His hunting buddy and longtime friend mistook the sound of Northcutt falling as the sound of an injured buck they had shot at earlier during the trip.

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Northcutt was shot in the leg and chest. The bullet in the chest would be lodged in his third vertebrae for a year. It would be some time before one of the members of the hunting crew could return with help, and before his ambulance reached the hospital, it collided with a pickup truck.

“Now, I’m not bragging, but I had the washboard chest and I could jump rope like a boxer,” Northcutt said.

He would stay in the hospital for 100 days. When he arrived, he weighed 166 pounds, but had dropped to 115 pounds by the time he left. During the stay, Northcutt’s lung collapsed once, and a kidney needed to be removed.

Daytonian Bill Northcutt and his wife Brenda Northcutt.
Daytonian Bill Northcutt and his wife Brenda Northcutt.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

The freak accident is only one of many wild stories from Northcutt’s life that he’s happy to share if someone is lucky enough to cross paths with the prolific storyteller. Though there are too many surgeries, concussions, a washing machine accident that nearly claimed his hand and other random accidents, Northcutt is light-hearted about them all.

You’re most likely to find Northcutt at a Boston Stoker with a cup in his hand, either behind the counter or out chatting with customers.

For decades, Northcutt has been a loyal Boston Stoker employee, supervisor, customer and most of all — friend.

Northcutt has been great friends with Boston Stoker founders Don Dean and Sally Dean since the earliest days of the coffeeshop in 1973 when it was still primarily an upscale cigar store. Don and Northcutt shared a bond over, among many things, cigars, fishing, and of course, coffee. So much so, that Northcutt and his wife Brenda moved back to Dayton from Daytona Beach, Florida in 1992, leaving behind successful jobs, so that Northcutt could help Dean run and grow the coffee shops.

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“We’re pretty much a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ business,” Dean said. “We grew one store at a time … Bill’s been in the middle of just about everything. You know, when I needed somebody I could really rely on when we were doing a new project or something like that, Bill was in the middle of it.”

In the middle of staying busy at Boston Stoker and avoiding his next injury, Northcutt has managed to stay in relatively good health. So when, about two years ago at a routine appointment where his doctor took some blood, he was shocked to learn that his kidney was failing.

The wait list for a donated kidney is long and can be even longer for patients like Northcutt who are in their 80s, Northcutt said. However, if someone comes forward to see if they could be a match, a living donor could mean Northcutt would get a new kidney much sooner.

If interested in learning more about the donation process and finding out if they could be a match for Northcutt, call Tina Stanley, the UC Health Living Donor Coordinator, at 513-584-8313. Northcutt’s need for a kidney is urgent.

Of all the employees Don Dean has worked with over the many years of Boston Stoker, Northcutt is the kindest of all, Dean said.

“Someone could be cussing him out at the store, just chewing him up, and he had the ability to still be kind to them,” Dean said.

One of Northcutt’s favorite ways to get a smile out of customers who appeared as if they needed a laugh was to hand them a teeny-tiny, thimble-sized mug he kept handy when someone would order a “small coffee.”

“People ask, ‘To what do you attribute your long life (of health and good fortune)?’ … I don’t have any wisdom words,” Northcutt said. “I just tried to live a normal life, and God blessed me.”

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