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Hidden Heroes
Largo senior stays active serving her community
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LARGO – For many of us, retirement is a time we greatly anticipate, finally having the opportunity to experience all the things that a busy lifestyle just couldn’t make time for previously, such as gardening, traveling, visiting with family, golfing, actually reading a book cover to cover.

But for some people, there is no such thing as slowing down.

Being active is what keeps them young, and for these people, this is a time to really start living. Remaining active in the communities, can give people a sense of fulfillment, and by doing so, people also can touch the lives of the people around us.

For one Florida senior, staying active is not just a choice, but a way of life. From keeping tabs on her local residential community and surviving breast cancer to achieving a lifelong dream, Joanne Daggey just keeps going.

A resident of Cavalier Building for 11 years, 76-year-old Daggey is president of the condominium association, a post she has had for the past eight years. Daggey oversees everything that goes on. Screening new potential residents and enforcing the association’s established rules with the tenants are some of her main responsibilities.

“It’s a job no one else wants to do, I guess,” Daggey said. “I’ll keep doing it until someone else wants to. We just try to keep this a nice place to live. But I get to know everyone who lives here and it keeps me very busy.”

But Daggey doesn’t stop there. She goes above and beyond to ensure her community continues to be inviting and thriving. Daggey said that when she first became president of the condominium association, she immediately went into action.

“Tom (Krupa) and I immediately bought wallpaper, paint, etc. I even made slip covers for the chairs in our recreation room,” said Daggey. “We hold an annual Christmas party in there as well as occasional wedding receptions. It’s really nice. About six years ago, we bought new curtains.”

Her keen eye for decorating can be attributed to her experience as a Vogue Fashion School graduate (Chicago 1947) followed by her professional work as a merchandiser and model in Indiana.

Krupa, secretary and treasurer of the condo association and 12-year resident of the building, works alongside Daggey on a daily basis.

“We are a self-managed community,” he said. “Joanne and I work so well together because we both believe in proactive maintenance. We like to repair and enhance things in our residence before they become a problem. We’re not extravagant. We just want to keep this a nice community.”

When she’s not doting on tenants or having the roof repaired, Daggey is busy playing bridge with her cronies, as she affectionately calls them. Starting out as a lifelong goal, her dream finally became a reality when she received a Life Master in Bridge in January 2003. The rank of Life Master is one of the highest ranks any bridge player can achieve. In January 2004, she moved on to receive a Bronze Life Master.

“You play for points, not money,” she said. “People always think I make money by playing. It costs me money to play.”

Daggey said to receive a life master you need to accumulate a minimum of 300 points.

Not much gets in the way of Daggey and her bridge, not even cancer. Just four years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Undergoing a mastectomy, lumpectomy and six months of chemotherapy, she is a cancer survivor.

“I still played bridge through all my treatments,” she said. “I’d stick the needle in my hand, get my chemo, then head to the bridge table.”

Daggey actively plays the game three to four days a week, and often plays in local bridge tournaments. Daggey has five grown children and eight grandchildren.

“I know I’m a good mother. That is one of my greatest achievements,” Daggey said. Affectionately called “Mommy Jo” by her grandchildren, Daggey chuckled as she whispered, “I don’t like being called grandma, it makes me feel old.”

In her spare time, Daggey enjoys being outdoors, reading the newspaper, quilting and interior decorating. Looking at her own brightly painted coral bathroom, her personality is as sweet and radiant as the paint.

“I like this color,” she said. “It just makes me happy to look at it.”
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