Mabel Norris Reese

Many of us remember the 1956 volume of short biographies titled Profiles In Courage, written by then-Senator John F. Kennedy. The book profiles eight Americans who defied popular opinions to do what they felt was right. Mabel Norris Reese could easily have been included in this courageous group.

Reese was editor and owner of the “Mount Dora Topic,” a small Lake County newspaper from 1947 to 1960.  She is best remembered for her oppositional opinion pieces. Reese questioned the veracity of the local sheriff Willis McCall after the erroneous arrest of four young black men in Lake County in 1949. Once Reese realized the sheriff was lying, she bravely exposed him, his department and supporters.  In 2012, author Gilbert King wrote the book Devil in the Grove. It recounts the story of attorney Thurgood Marshall’s defense of the Groveland Boys, as the four men were now known. Mabel Norris Reese exposed the cover-up in spite of unrelenting intimidation.  She passed in 1995 at age 80 at her home in Daytona Beach.

Friend and Harbor Hills neighbor Frankie Smith is on the committee to put forth Mabel Norris Reese’s nomination into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Reese’s statue will be unveiled in Mount Dora. The event will be attended by author Gilbert King, sculptor Jim McNalis and Mabel’s granddaughter, Cindy Chesley Erickson. “We are very pleased to see Mabel Norris Reese recognized,” Frankie explains, “She was a courageous journalist who set out to find the truth, speak the truth and write the truth.”

Join Smith at the statue unveiling in Sunset Park in Mount Dora at 10 a.m. on September 24th.  For more information on Mabel Norris Reese, visit: http//www.remembermabel.com.


The first Monday in September is Labor Day, a celebration of our country’s workforce. This is a special day that honors the American labor movement and pays tribute to the working men and women who help our economy prosper. It originated in 1882 as a “Workingman’s Holiday,” honoring the industrial foundation of our great country.

Could those hardworking men and women ever imagined how labor has changed? Today, information and communications technology has altered almost every aspect of familiar tasks. Speaking into my television remote to change channels amazes me. I remember getting off the couch to change the channel! The camera on my phone is more powerful than the one around my neck. The corona virus has made us even more dependent on technology. Face Time and Zoom visits have unfortunately replaced real-life visits with family members out-of-state. Even a doctor visit can be managed through our computer screens.

To help us recall the original spirit of Labor Day, I have a challenge for you. Give yourself the day off from your daily tasks. Log off that computer, tablet and cellphone that connect you to your daily routine. Then relax and appreciate a device-free afternoon of safely social distancing with friends, a scrapbook-inspired walk down memory lane or any device-free hobby that you enjoy.

Harbor Hills Country Club members and guests are celebrating Labor Day in style. Red, white and blue decorated carts are making their way down our picturesque fairways in a 4-person scramble. A traditional Labor Day cookout follows, complete with prizes and plenty of community camaraderie.

Honor those hardworking Americans we celebrate today. Stay safe and welcome to our returning residents and those new to our area.


Les Johnson

Les Johnson

As seniors and as golfers, we hear so much about the need for flexibility and core strength to prevent injury. Longevity is our goal, both in the sport and in life. Gary Player was the first golfer to recognize the benefits of physical fitness in the game. Early on, Player devoted himself to proper nutrition, strength and conditioning to stay competitive.  Today, at 85 years old, he is still the poster child for the benefits of long-term physical fitness.

From his first Masters win in 1961 to his accomplishments at the Senior Player Championships, Player is a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic. But for us high(er) handicappers, our strength training need not reach fanatic levels to generate more power in our swings and more fun in our play.

Tom Leimberger, Harbor Hills golf pro, agrees. “Golf fitness improves flexibility, range of motion and balance,” he said. “All are critical factors in increasing swing speed, which in turn results in greater distance.” Diet and exercise also contribute to increased energy and a positive mindset. Our Harbor Hills friend and neighbor, Les Johnson, is a perfect example. At age 90, Les has shot his age and under 865 times. (Yes, you read that right!)

In 2017, Les won the bronze medal for golf at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama. His impressive feat has become legendary in our community. What is his secret? A one-hour fitness routine each day, no exception, and a bowl of Wheaties every morning.

Leimberger suggests checking out the Titleist Performance Institute website, mytpi.com for exercises and the tip of the day. As Player said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”


Peacock at Harbor Hills

A legend is a story passed down through generations. It is often fact-based with a touch of the mystical. Did you know that Harbor Hills has a legend all its own? Forty years ago, the story goes, a traveling salesman purchased several peacocks to keep his wife company while he was on the road. The property was adjacent to what would become Harbor Hills.

Over the years, the peacocks found their way to our community. Visitors are now greeted with an unusual sign: “Peacock Crossing.” Countless generations of peacocks have graced Harbor Hills in the fifteen years that David and I have lived here. Perched by the clubhouse entrance and proud as peacocks always are, they greet visitors and residents alike. It takes up to three years for the peacocks’ train of feathers to fully develop. When spread out in the sunlight like a shimmering fan, nothing is more graceful.

Bluebirds have also found a welcoming home in Harbor Hills. Follow the footpaths and you will notice nest boxes perched several feet above the ground. Thirty boxes are scattered throughout the community. Several years ago, neighbors Bill Stone and Jim Griffith built habitats specifically for these colorful birds. Typically seen as symbols of happiness, bluebirds create their nests from March through August. Estimates are that 150 baby bluebirds are added to our Bluebird Trail annually.

Caring for animals of all kinds is prevalent in our community. Neighbors include shelter volunteers, a certified pet masseuse, veterinarians and agility trainers. From babysitting guide dogs to raising money for essential veterinary care, Harbor Hills residents are proud supporters of programs and services to help pets of all kinds.




Although summer days may be fading, Harbor Hills is buzzing with activity. Friday night dining is always open to the public. The lounge opens at 5:00 p.m. Dinner is served from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This Friday, enjoy “Imagine the Pastabilities.” It’s an All You Care to Eat for $21.99. Reservations requested.

“Head to the Hills” any Sunday to enjoy our always-popular Sunday brunch. Dine on an array of buffet items while enjoying the view of our Signature 10th hole. The public is welcome. For reservations, call 352-753-7000. On August 23, members invite friends for our popular “Meet A Neighbor, Bring A Neighbor” get-together in the Griffinview Lounge. Two for one drink specials, live entertainment and a gourmet burger buffet await.

Having a first generation Irish-American son-in-law, we’re not about to miss the Celtic Festival at Ormond Beach on September 11. This ten-year old festival features five music stages, highland games, sheep herding demonstrations and two pipe bands. Call AAA for reservations: (352) 561-3845.

Ready for some fun in the sun? Members enjoy our junior Olympic pool, perfect for morning water aerobic classes or a cool swim in the afternoon. The Grille Room has seating poolside with a menu of salads, pastas and sandwiches.

Our four pickleball courts with stadium viewing have seen a great deal of play this summer. During season, play expands to four mornings every week! Harbor Hills is one of the few country clubs to offer pickleball on the comfortable Har-Tru playing surface. Contact John Natolly, USPTA Elite Professional for membership options. Bridge, Spanish lessons, line dancing and many more clubs keep us busy until the bustle of our fall activities begin.


The Harbor Hills Championship Golf Course overlooks scenic Lake Griffin. It is a perfect setting for two worthy charity tournaments in September. On September 17th, the 22nd Annual Lake-Sumter State College Athletic Golf Classic takes place. The following day, Harbor Hills welcomes Habitat-Women’s Build with their “Back in the Swing Again” friendly golf outing.

Lake-Sumter State College is home to the Lakehawks. In addition to academic excellence, the college offers an array of intercollegiate athletics. Women’s beach volleyball, volleyball, softball, men’s baseball and men’s and women’s cross country are a few of the athletic offerings.

Lake Sumter State College Athletic Director Mike Matulia is excited for the annual golf classic at Harbor Hills. The event raises money for the athletic program and provides scholarships to student athletes who excel academically. “Harbor Hills does a tremendous job with the logistics and making our event special for our guests,” Matulia explains. Contact Mike at 352-323-3645 or matuliami@lssc.edu to participate as a sponsor or golfer!

On September 18th, Harbor Hills welcomes Habitat for Humanity – Women’s Build for their “Back in the Swing” event, hosted by the Rotary of The Villages Noon and sponsored by State Farm – Chris Semans. Chosen by Lake County as the 2020 Nonprofit of the year, Habitat Lake-Sumter has provided access to affordable housing since 1989. Women’s Build engages women in this worthy effort. “The golf tournament,” Deputy Director Danielle Stroud says, “will offer the chance to give back and support a local family in their journey to find a safe place to call home.” To sponsor or play in the “Back in the Swing event,” contact Bill Tanner at 309-826-8323 or MBILL9000@aol.com.


August is Water Quality Month and it’s the perfect time to think about nearby Lake Griffin. The lake is adjacent to the Harbor Hills community, providing spectacular views as well as fishing from the neighborhood dock. The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area known as the Jewel of Lake County. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. The 7,089-acre US wildlife area is maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District. In 1974, the conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

The state of Florida is home to one-fifth of the country’s wetlands. Protection of these fragile areas is critical. Half of all North American bird species and other endangered animals use wetlands for feeding and nesting. In winter, songbirds, marsh birds and ducks migrate to Emeralda Marsh. Flocks of snowy egrets and sandhill cranes stroll gracefully through the nearby neighborhoods of Harbor Hills. The sturdy branches of our fairway trees provide ample cover and a grand perspective for the occasional bald eagle.

Today, area visitors find an abundance of wetland wildlife as well as boating, hiking and fishing. Open waters are stocked with fish by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Neighbors Butch and Linda Carlson, Dr. Dan Wassell, Dan Kurka and Mark Rhodes are a few of our recreational anglers.  Others include Barry Palmer, Tom Ingram, Mark Witkop and Mike Cofer. They enjoy fishing the many interconnected lakes of the scenic Harris Chain including Lake Griffin.

Much work has been done to improve our local water quality and restore a thriving habitat for our plant and animal life. For information, visit floridaswater.com.


Miss Lake County

Miss Lake County

Service. Scholarship. Determination. What connects these important attributes? Jackie Croft can tell you. She is the director of Miss Lake County Florida. The pageant organization promotes involvement in community service and encourages participants to develop meaningful goals and ambitions.

Under Jackie’s leadership, the pageant has grown in prestige and scope. “The most important benefit of the competition lies in community service, raising awareness and inspiring others,” Jackie said. The reigning Miss Lake County Florida, Lilly Parker, is attending Stetson University as a nursing student and is also a Stetson cheerleader. Lilly has held all the original titles for Miss Lake County: Pre-teen, Teen and now Miss. She has contributed hundreds of service hours to our community.

The girls of the Miss Lake County court were challenged to think outside the box this year. They had a clothing drive for a family of five who lost everything in a fire. They handed out teddy bears at Fruitland Park Movie Night and staffed the Sunrise rotary’s concession stand. One of the girls’ favorite events is throwing out the first pitch at the Leesburg Lightning baseball game. This week, the girls will be sorting clothing for a shelter.

On Saturday, August 7th, Harbor Hills Country Club is proud to host the Miss Lake County Scholarship Golf Tournament. The tournament is the pageant’s main fundraiser. All proceeds are designated for college scholarships. Registration opens at 7a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. The cost of $75 per golfer includes the tournament and lunch. Awards, prizes, chance drawings and a 50-50 drawing are included. Call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711 to register or visit misslakecountrypageant.com. Please support our deserving Lake County girls!


Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club

The Ford Thunderbird is a classic chapter in auto history and has a heritage all its own. The car, with its unique features and styling, made its first public appearance at Detroit’s 1954 auto show. This personal luxury car was the first Ford 2-seater since 1938 as well as the most expensive Ford available.

The signature name “Thunderbird” pays homage to the mythology of Native American tribes. The Thunderbird is a supernatural bird that rules the sky. The rich history of the Ford Thunderbird is one that Ralph Cowell, Past President of the Rotary Club of The Villages, knows well. He recently formed the Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club. Last month, twenty-eight club members arrived at the Harbor Hills Country Club. The Retro Bird Club joined the Classic/Baby Birds Club for fun and a delicious brunch. Fourteen birds were parked under the portico in front of the clubhouse. It was a unique display and a great picture-taking opportunity.

Harbor Hills neighbors Steve and Eileen Gordon are proud owners of both a 1955 baby bird and a 2005, the 50th anniversary bird. Steve explained that it took almost two years for the couple to find the right match, but they did! Harbor Hills friends David and Annette Rystrom enjoy their 1956 T-bird. David said that although T-Birds are known as a luxury ride, “they are capable of reaching speeds from 173 mph to 241 mph as clocked by Knot Farrington’s street legal ’56 T-Bird.”

The Central Florida Classic Thunderbird Club meets at 5PM at Michelle’s Cuisine restaurant in the Belks Plaza on the last Monday of the month. For more information, contact Ralph Cowell at rotaryralph@hotmail.com.




John Natolly

John Natolly

The first Wimbledon championship took place in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The event is held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London and played on outdoor grass courts. The record for the most Wimbledon titles in Ladies’ Singles is held by Czech and American player Martina Navratilova with nine victories. William Renshaw was the first to win seven Men’s Singles championships followed by Pete Sampras. The all-time winner is Roger Federer, winning the event eight times.

As Saturday’s Ladies Final was played, Harbor Hills Racquet Association members were treated to a classic Wimbledon breakfast at the home of Publicity Chairman Ted Drzewiecki and his wife Joanne. Breakfast included strawberries, champagne and Ted’s famous crepes. Guests made the event even more fun by wearing all white, the traditional Wimbledon dress code.

The Harbor Hills Racquet Association was formed to give players a voice in how racquet sports are promoted and played. Association President Giac Modica is looking forward to events planned for the new season. The Tennis Club Championship starts in November with a round robin among the various divisions; Men’s Doubles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Teams are already forming and developing creative strategies to capture the win!

Members of the Harbor Hills Racquet Association include country club members and non-residents who hold social, golf, seasonal tennis or pickleball memberships. Annual dues are $10 per person and are used for courtside amenities, facility improvements and other expenses. Contact John Natolly, USPTA Elite Professional, at 352-753-9376 or jnatolly@harborhills.com for more information. Join us courtside and let’s get back in the swing of things!

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