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Hernando neighbors | Gloria Dian Oakleaf, 65

Gloria Dian Oakleaf has a creative hand in a bit of everything

Gloria Dian Oakleaf stands among some of the props and signs she has created for shows at the High Point Community Center. She also volunteers at Oak Hill Hospital and is the president of the High Point Volunteer Library Club. 

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Gloria Dian Oakleaf stands among some of the props and signs she has created for shows at the High Point Community Center. She also volunteers at Oak Hill Hospital and is the president of the High Point Volunteer Library Club. 

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

A: I moved to Florida about five years ago from Georgia. Prior to that, I had lived in Oregon for 20 years, and before that in Chicago for many years. I was born in Michigan and currently live in High Point.

Who are the members of your family?

My sister, Sheila, and her husband, Clay Kirk, who also live in High Point, and a son, Frank, who lives in Illinois. I have two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Tell us about your career.

I worked for the city of Chicago for 19 years, doing several different things, including bookkeeping, lead testing, arts and crafts, and other odd jobs. My family and I moved to Portland, Ore., where I worked for the Department of Justice collecting child support.

While doing that, I got my beautician's and real estate licenses. For a brief time, I worked in a real estate office. It just didn't suit me, but the experience and knowledge helped me a great deal when I was buying my first home.

What kinds of activities are you involved in now?

Once a week, I volunteer at Oak Hill Hospital, and oftentimes I fill in for other volunteers when they can't make their shift. I am the president of the High Point Volunteer Library Club. I really love to read and can read a book a day. Currently, I am reading two.

I have had a creative side since I was a kid. That creativity has helped me over the years. Currently, I make costumes and stage props for the many stage shows we have here at High Point.

The High Point Players perform at our clubhouse during four main shows a year — a variety show in April or May, one at Easter, a Fourth of July show and our Christmas show. We have other, smaller shows in between, like our '50s Sock Hop. Many of the High Point Players are wonderful singers, and we sometimes hold shows or programs where they can shine.

Here, my beautician's license has come in handy. I often help our entertainers with their makeup, as well as with costumes.

Any special hobbies?

Besides reading, which I do every day, I guess you could say that making the costumes and designs is my hobby. I used to do a lot of painting with watercolors, acrylics and such, but now I'm just painting backdrops and props.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

I love Pine Island and look forward to going as often as I can. I once found baby shark teeth and a horseshoe crab shell there. I cleaned up and shellacked the shell, and now it is a piece of art here in my home.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

I wish we could improve our public transportation. Due to finances, I know they had to make a lot of changes recently. I really feel sorry for elderly people (especially here in High Point) who don't drive and have to rely on public transportation. Some of them have to walk a long while to get to the nearest bus stop, and many places don't have sidewalks.

I would also love it if we had our own minor league ball team.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

From the first time I saw her in the movie War and Peace, I wanted to be just like Audrey Hepburn — tall and skinny. Unfortunately, I am short and look more like a farmer's daughter. I do laugh at myself more than anyone. And, thankfully, people are very kind to me.

Back many years ago, when I lived in Oregon, I made a costume for a science fiction convention. It won, by the way. The costume drew lots of attention, and I became known as the Blue Lady.

The inspiration for the costume was this blue hat, almost a turban, that I found at a secondhand store. From there, I added a nightgown, which I dyed blue, blue body paint and blue fingernail polish, and blue glitter eye shadow. I was asked to dress in this costume at all kinds of events like local fairs, markets and schools. After six years, I retired the costume. I know many people who witnessed it never knew it was me.

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at jhayes@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1438.

Gloria Dian Oakleaf has a creative hand in a bit of everything 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 1:02pm]
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