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Epilogue | Rose Veronica Napp

Through service work, Rose Napp kept Christmas going year round

DUNEDIN — Ted Napp walks to a framed photo on the wall and lifts it gingerly off its hanger. It shows himself and Rose, his wife, dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus in an old wagon pulled by a Clydesdale.

"We would just be up there waving to the crowd," he said. Napp, 85, wears a pressed denim jacket over his T-shirt and speaks in a clear voice that belies his grief.

A 4-foot-high, wooden Santa stands near the photo, a few feet from a display case filled with Santa figurines and assorted female companions. A tall Santa with a pristine white beard and Scotch plaid robe stands alone on a shelf. Rose Napp had a hand in all of it.

Reminders of her fill every shelf — the places they traveled, the knickknacks picked up in foreign ports. They would have celebrated 64 years of marriage this year. He explains each curio and chronicles her life in a matter-of-fact way.

For years she was Mrs. Claus in the Dunedin Christmas parade. But that was only part of her story. Mrs. Napp was considered one of the most active volunteers and activists in the city's history.

She was a 5-foot-2 dynamo who would rather hold two separate Christmas parties than drop a single invitation from her list. She put up three trees with separate themes, including one with Scotch liquor miniatures as ornaments to celebrate Dunedin's Scottish origins.

Mrs. Napp died May 12, at Mease Continuing Care, of heart failure. She was 84.

"Rose Napp was what I call a supervolunteer," said Tom Anderson, a former Dunedin mayor and state representative. "She volunteered in many different areas and did a lot of work for the city of Dunedin."

Ted Napp felt the same way, so much so he made a vanity license plate that read PRO VOL (for "professional volunteer") for her electric blue Lincoln Continental, which she drove with a heavy foot between committee meetings.

"I think not much would get done without volunteer work," Mrs. Napp told the Beacon, a local paper, in 2009. "The amount of work we get done is phenomenal."

As a 14-year member of the city's committee on aging, she worked to get food and transportation to shut-ins and their caregivers. She had also chaired the parks and recreation committee, and was a past president of the Dunedin Youth Guild and the Dunedin Council of Organizations.

She took a front-row seat at City Commission meetings, where she pressed successfully for wheelchair accessibility and automated verbal instructions at traffic lights (for pedestrians who are visually impaired).

It didn't feel like work and didn't tire her out.

"It's so hard to explain to people that to my mom, this wasn't a job," said Janet Ostendorf, her daughter.

Peers honored Mrs. Napp and her husband, who also was active in civic causes. In the 1990s, they rode down Main Street as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. She wore a white ruffled cap, and a costume of red, white, green and plaid. At the end of the ride, they gave candy canes to children at Edgewater Park.

In 2003, the couple were inducted into the city's Senior Hall of Fame, a recognition she had established years earlier.

In 2006, the Chamber of Commerce named the Napps Mr. and Mrs. Delightful Dunedin, and in 2009 Mrs. Napp was named grand marshal of the Christmas parade.

Rose Danko was born in Chicago in 1926, the daughter of Hungarian parents. She met Ted Napp, whose ancestry was Polish, in a botany class at Chicago City Junior College. They married in 1947.

"We never considered divorce," her husband said. "We always said it was nice to have arguments, because it was so much fun making up."

Just as Santa Claus is known to hand out switches and ashes, Mrs. Napp could dish out a kick in the pants. When transients overran public restrooms in Edgewater Park and citizen complaints went nowhere, she entered the facilities and took photos. Before the start of the next commission meeting, Mrs. Napp hand-delivered her photos to each commissioner.

Within weeks, the restrooms were fully renovated.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Rose Veronica Napp

Born: Sept. 22, 1926.

Died: May 12, 2011.

Survivors: Husband Ted; daughter Janet Ostendorf; sons Thad and Thomas; and five grandchildren.

Through service work, Rose Napp kept Christmas going year round 05/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 12:10am]
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