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Hernando neighbors | Tom and Judy Smith, 72 and 69

Tom and Judy Smith of Spring Hill enjoy jolly good hobby

Judy and Tom Smith dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus each year, donating their time at Hospice, the Angels on High event at the Lake House, St. Joan of Arc and the Kiwanis breakfast with Santa.

MAURICE RIVENBARK | Times

Judy and Tom Smith dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus each year, donating their time at Hospice, the Angels on High event at the Lake House, St. Joan of Arc and the Kiwanis breakfast with Santa.

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

We moved to Spring Hill from Gibraltar, Mich., to be close to family. Tom designed our home and it was built in 1987. But we were still working up North, so Judy's parents moved in and cared for the house until 1992, when we retired and moved to Florida.

Who are the members of your family?

We have two sons, Mark and Jim, and one daughter, Micki. Micki just became a grandmother and is enjoying her 1-year-old granddaughter, Kayla.

Tell us about your careers.

We both have had many jobs in our working careers but most of our lives we worked (and met) at Ford Motor Co. Tom was production superintendent at the Dearborn Stamping Plant in Dearborn, and Judy had a clerical position for 12 years, then transferred to the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit for the 10 more years, ending up in graphics arts. After Judy's retirement, she opened a gift shop in the city of Wyandotte.

What kinds of activities are you involved in now?

Tom volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He served as president of the Michigan Club for five years, as well as serving in other positions, and is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus and a charter member of the St. Joan of Arc assembly.

Judy volunteered for many years as membership chairwoman of the Michigan Club, and now helps plan club outings. She is the Queen Mum of the Gulf Coast Sassy Gals, a chapter of the Red Hat Society. She also belongs to a Queens Chapter, representing more than 150 chapters in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties. Judy is currently organizing three events to celebrate the anniversary of the Red Hat Society to be held in April. Luncheons will be held in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco, with local chapters participating.

Currently, we represent Santa and Mrs. Claus at local events and activities.

Tell me more about that.

Several years back, when Tom's mother was living in a nursing home, she wanted to see Santa at Christmastime. That's when he decided to be Santa, and has since continued this path throughout the years. Judy now joins in on the fun, dressing as Mrs. Claus.

This year we will donate our time as Santa and Mrs. Claus for Hospice, the Angels on High event at the Lake House, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and at the Kiwanis Breakfast with Santa, and for the first time, at the Democratic Women's Club.

Tom just got a new suit this year and can't wait to show it off.

Do you have any special hobbies?

In the late 1980s, we began collecting Department 56 village houses, and at one time had more than 200 with many accessories. Since Christmas is sort of our thing, we get a great deal of enjoyment out of our Christmas decorations, including our Christmas tree and our lighted display of Christmas in the city wall unit we have, along with all of our Santa figurines.

Judy enjoys taking lots of pictures and has begun doing some scrapbooking. She also spends a great deal of time on the computer communicating with family and friends. And several years ago she began gathering and writing our family history, and stays busy keeping that updated.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

Besides portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus, we love eating out at local restaurants, especially at the Pizza Guy on Commercial Way in Spring Hill.

We also enjoy attending Stage West Community Playhouse productions, church activities, arts and craft shows, the Swamp Fest, the Hernando County Fair, the botanical gardens and sunsets at the new Bayport Park.

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

We'd love to see the medians on Spring Hill Drive, between Commercial Way and Deltona Boulevard, beautified. It would also be a good idea to keep all the dry lake beds mowed to prevent fires.

We also think it would be good for the community if all the empty homes could have their yards kept up. When you are in a deed-restricted community, those rules should be enforced.

We'd also love to see an Olive Garden open here, and the old Kmart on Commercial Way dynamited.

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

Judy's maternal great-grandparents were deaf and raised four deaf sons. One of their sons, Judy's grandfather, had seven hearing children, but one of his children now has a deaf granddaughter. Thank goodness for modern technology, because today she is currently attending the University of California at Berkeley and loves it.

Tom joined Boy Scouts at the age of 9, and achieved his Eagle Scout rank. He served three years as a Scoutmaster. He also served three years in the Marine Corps at the end of the Korean War.

We are very much looking forward to an upcoming trip to Estes Park in Colorado for a family reunion in July, and we plan to stop along the way to see all the sights.

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.

Tom and Judy Smith of Spring Hill enjoy jolly good hobby 12/12/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 12, 2009 12:59pm]
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