DUNEDIN — To those who knew Ted and Rose Napp, the name of the award given them seemed aptly chosen: Mr. and Mrs. Delightful Dunedin.
They got the 2006 award from the Greater Dunedin Chamber of Commerce for their enthusiastic civic involvement.
The Napps, who also were known in the 1990s as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for their starring roles in the Christmas parade, were a unit. They attended every City Commission meeting and sat in the front row. They were involved in numerous civic clubs, and both had served as president of the Dunedin Council of Organizations. Mr. Napp, a retired sales executive, also recruited new members to the chamber.
"He was very successful at it," said chamber president Lynn Wargo.
Mr. Napp handled even the most casual introductions with care, as if there was a lot riding on every first impression. He gripped an outstretched hand firmly. He made eye contact and spoke in a clear and firm voice that put people at ease.
"He was a great dresser," said Thad Napp, his son. "He never dressed old, but always crisply. He wore bow ties."
Thaddeus Aloysuis Napiorkowski was born in Chicago in 1926. Though proud of his Polish ancestry, he later decided "Napp" was easier to remember.
He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, then graduated from DePaul University. He married Rose Danko, then sold electronic components for Sylvania Electric. The job took him across the country through several promotions.
"Being a salesman was a big part of his life," said Thad Napp, 58. "It kind of defined who he was."
The couple retired to Dunedin and jumped into civic activities. They lined the shelves of their home with Santa Claus figurines from their travels.
"We decided a long time ago that we weren't going to put them on display and then pack them up and put them away, and then bring them out again every year," Mr. Napp said in May, after his wife of 64 years died of heart failure. "So I said, hell, let's leave them out. So I've learned to live with all these old guys looking at you. And now I'm one of them."
"One of the things I loved about him," said Wargo, "was that he looked at the different parts of his life — the changes, the cities he had lived in, the jobs he had — with such joy and fondness. It inspired those around him to think positively of the things we've all been through."
In July, Mr. Napp served as grand marshal of the Orange Stroll-About in the annual Orange Parade. Despite his pulmonary fibrosis, he managed to walk a mile in an orange suit.
Mr. Napp lasted through Christmas, something his family believes was a goal. He died at 11 p.m. Dec. 31, the last hour of the year. Mr. Napp was 85.
Researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.