The elderly woman showed up right on time for her appointment last week. Bill Humphrey, who over the years has helped thousands just like her file income tax returns for free, watched as she carefully presented paperwork, including last year's forms prepared by a national firm.
"They charged her $185,'' Humphrey said, "and she didn't even need to file because her income was so low. It pains me to see people taken advantage of that way.''
About the same time, Humphrey learned another client, an 80-year-old widower, had been a victim of identity theft. Somebody used his wife's name and Social Security number to file a phony return. Humphrey wasn't looking forward to trying to explain the situation.
"He's so befuddled,'' he said. "His wife took care of all their finances, and now this. Eventually this will all get sorted out, but he'll be getting letters from the IRS and it will just add to his discomfort.''
Humphrey has counted 12 cases of identity theft so far this year, a number that is sure to grow. The victims include people who have watched their income dwindle. Humphrey has a ringside seat to the misery that has penetrated Pasco County's economy since the housing bust sent so many people to the unemployment line. He has helped them fill out their forms, hoping to salvage any nickels and dimes due to come their way.
But for all that exposure to desperation, the retired business executive has never lost his sense of mission. He stays positive in his eighth year of heading up volunteers through the United Way of Pasco's Prosperity Campaign. He has presided over a countywide success story, watching it grow from assisting 3,000 residents to more than 8,000 this year.
It's just one of many good deeds Humphrey, 74, has charted since leaving the corporate world, which included three decades with AT&T. He attributes his attitude toward giving to the way his folks raised him, but also to a few presidents whose words still inspire him: John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush.
Kennedy implored Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.'' And Bush acknowledged kindness and public service as the "thousand points of light.''
"It had a big effect on me and the way I want to live my life,'' said Humphrey, a Vanderbilt grad who served two years as a Navy officer. "I believe it is the responsibility of people who have to help those who don't have.''
Humphrey and his wife of 49 years, Sue, moved from Basking Ridge, N.J., to Trinity in 2001. While she worked as a Realtor, he volunteered his business expertise as president of his homeowners association and became active with a men's association and his community's crime watch. The tax program became almost like a full-time job, and not just during the crunch months from January to April.
During other months, he recruits more volunteers and makes sure computer systems are up to date.
In 2008, he earned the C. Colburn Hardy Older Advocate Award in Tallahassee as Florida's outstanding volunteer for seniors.
Every Saturday, he drives a bus for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in New Port Richey, gathering 15 elderly women for Mass and then returning them home. He and Sue serve as Eucharist ministers.
And as if he didn't have enough to do in Florida, he formed the Virginia Beach (Va.) Police Foundation in 2008 with the intention of raising enough money to create a permanent memorial for fallen officers.
The Humphreys' son, Scott, is a lieutenant in the department and his wife, Tracy, is an officer. They have two children, Leigh, 5, and Brooke, 3.
The foundation raised more than $500,000 and the memorial dedication is set for May 12.
The proud grandparents will be there, in the front row.
Sue and Bill will celebrate a half-century together June 29 and when they return home, he'll return to his "job.''
How much longer is the question.
"I really need to line up a successor,'' he said. "I'm not getting any younger.''