Dr. Claudia Thomas

Dr. Claudia Thomas

Fitness is an integral part of enjoying and prolonging our lives.  Exercise helps develop muscle tone, improves our balance and posture. For seniors, the pandemic has made it even more challenging to achieve fitness while managing the strains and pains of aging.

Harbor Hills resident Dr. Claudia Thomas offers guidance. She is an orthopedic specialist in Lady Lake in practice for 43 years. Dr. Thomas was the first woman to be admitted to the Yale Orthopedic residency training program.

In her practice at UNOVA Health Care, Dr. Thomas sees recurring complaints among her senior patients. Low back pain, shoulder pain and knee pain are most common. “Fitness is a key factor in minimizing symptoms,” she states. “Harbor Hills is unique. Our gentle hills offer walkers the perfect fitness opportunity, with or without their dogs!” Other outdoor activities such as running, bike-riding and gardening can also be enjoyed while social distancing.

Even moderate strength training can make a major difference in senior health.  It lessens the symptoms of chronic conditions such as back pain, arthritis and osteoporosis. Yoga and chair exercises can be practiced within the safety of our homes. Set goals and switch up your routines to keep it fun. Don’t forget to play your favorite music and dance away!

Having survived cancer at the height of her career, Dr. Thomas cites faith as an integral component of a healthy life. To that end, she and her partners developed a mentoring program for at risk boys in Leesburg. God Spare Life is the name of Dr. Thomas’ autobiography. Many thanks to her and all the resident physicians at Harbor Hills and The Villages who keep us active, positive and safe!


Shanghai rummy

Shanghai rummy

The word ‘Shanghai” conjures up images of old movies (think “Shanghai Express” with Marlene Dietrich) as well as more recent ones (“Indiana Jones” begins at Shanghai’s Club Obi-Wan.) Intrigue and excitement are synonymous with the name. For history buffs, the port city of Shanghai is fascinating. The two Chinese characters in the city’s name mean “Upon-the-Sea.” By 1700, Shanghai had a population of about 50,000, making it a large and prosperous port exporting silks, tea and porcelain.

In the 19th century, clipper ships in the China trade required a great deal of labor to operate. This gave rise to the practice of kidnapping people to serve as sailors by coercive techniques using trickery and deception. Since Shanghai was a common destination of ships with abducted crews, the modern term means to put someone into an undesirable position by pretense.

For a special group of Harbor Hills women, Shanghai has a very different connotation. Every Friday afternoon, they gather for a game of Shanghai rummy. The object is for players to organize all their cards into sets. Play ends once a player has arranged all her cards into sets or melds.

Country club member Fran Novak loves the game and is looking forward to the return of our winter players. “It makes you think,” she explains, “and you get a chance to catch up with neighbors and happenings in the community.”

Bring your nickels, dimes and quarters and join members for play any Friday at 12:30PM in the clubhouse. Seasoned players are excited to teach the game to new players. Members of Harbor Hills Country Club are invited and encouraged to join the fun.


Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area

Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area

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, Ken Kurth, 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.


Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing

It was a place to escape the city life and breathe fresh mountain air. Often known as ‘the Borcht Belt,’ iconic resorts in the Catskills were located in southeast New York state between Albany and New York City. In the summer, families descended on the region, creating traditions in the 1950’s and 1960’s fondly remembered today.

Many celebrities found their way to these legendary resorts and mingled with the guests. Jackie Robinson, Rocky Marciano and Yogi Berra were a few. As a star-struck teenager, I met Paul Anka at Grosinger’s Resort! Comics included Jerry Seinfeld, Rodney Dangerfield and Henny Youngman. Musicians Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Dean Martin were headliners back in the day.

One entertaining act featured a family of gymnasts called Taffy ‘n Terry and Trio, also known as the Flying Wendelkens. Walter and Taffy Wendelken and their three children, Roger, Sandra and Dennis performed as an acrobatic adagio troupe. The routine included lifts, flips and aerials. The elder Weldelkens balanced their children on upraised feet and outstretched hands with amazing feats of strength and balance. Roger, the oldest child, displayed breathtaking aerial stunts from his father’s shoulders. Taffy ‘n Terry and Trio also performed on television including The Ed Sullivan Show and Under The Big Top. Roger was proud to say the troupe got top billing over Sammy Davis, Jr.!

In later years, Roger joined the Unisys Corporation and moved his wife Ruth and two sons to South Florida. Retirement led the Wendelkens to the Harbor Hills community, residing here for more than twenty years. In addition to golf, Roger actively supported the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity. The community was saddened by Wendelken’s passing in April. His athleticism is part of his unusual legacy and we all miss him greatly.


Miss Lake County

Miss Lake County

The Miss Lake County Florida pageant encourages participants to develop meaningful goals and ambitions. “The most important benefit of the competition lies in community service, raising awareness and inspiring others,” Director Jackie Croft explains. The eleven young girls crowned each year accumulate volunteer hours during their reign to achieve the Presidential Volunteer service award.

Pageant winners volunteer at food drives, Kiwanis Club functions and Adopt-A-Grandparent programs at local senior centers. This year, activities have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus. Regardless, the reigning Miss Lake County Florida Jayden Young and her court are making a positive impact. The girls are bolstering our local essential workers by delivering homemade cookies, sending cards to sick children and public speaking when possible.

On Saturday, August 22, Harbor Hills Country Club is proud to host the Miss Lake County Scholarship Golf Tournament for the fourth year. Proceeds have enabled awards of $12,500 in scholarships to our Lake County students. The cost of $75 per golfer includes the tournament and lunch. To register, call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711 or visit misslakecountypageant.com. Please consider playing or sponsoring!

The pageant’s aim is to instill a sense of the importance of helping others. Helping others is what drew Harbor Hills’ Frankie Smith to the Beautiful Girls Project. Frankie heard Chef Ze Carter of Leesburg’s Kitch’n Lyfe Skills, Inc. speak about overlooked needs for local girls. The mission of the project is to donate products and funds to disadvantaged girls in our community. Products include individually wrapped toothbrushes, soap and toothpaste as well as feminine hygiene products. Frankie is asking for deodorant and bar soap donations to meet a deadline of Friday, July 31st. Contact Frankie Smith at frankie.hellobeautiful@gmail.com. Sponsors and volunteers are needed!


Harbor Hills Country Club

Harbor Hills Country Club

Staying positive and enjoying every day is more important than ever, especially for us seniors. Although our activities are limited during the current COVID-19 situation, we still have summer calendars to fill. How about a visit to Harbor Hills? We are located at the end of Lake Griffin Road in Lady Lake. We are minutes away from The Villages and a short 4.6 -mile drive from the intersection of County Road 466 and U.S. Highway 27/441.

Our semiprivate club welcomes guests in safety with great care for the current situation. Enjoy lunch on our outdoor patio overlooking scenic Lake Griffin. How about a challenging round of golf on our championship course? Discounted rates apply! Call the Pro Shop for more info at 352-753-7711.

Our July 4th festivities included an Independence Day remembrance and a “2 Best Ball Foursome” golf tournament. Two Men’s Flight teams tied for first; Team Ron Nisun, Bill Stone, Tom Warren, Lee Bowers and Team John Bircher, Ken Machacek, Joe Pulsone and John Biszantz. First place in the Fun Flight went to Steve and Eileen Gordon and Bob and Billie Neese. Our God Bless America flight was won by Cliff and Gerri Murphy and Joe Cervoni and Nancy Skoch. Dr. Jay and Deya Shaktawat teamed up with Mike and Linda Reyome to win the mixed Adult/Junior Flight. Golf was followed by an All-American cookout.

Ready for some fun in the sun? Members enjoy our junior Olympic pool, perfect for morning water aerobics or a cool swim in the afternoon. Sundays in July are Family Fundays. We are open to the public seven days a week year-round and look forward to your visit.


The extraordinary events of recent months have challenged our mental and physical health as well as the health of those we love. Children are particularly affected by the lack of physical activity. We can’t overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy, provided it’s carried out safely. So get those kids and grandkids off the couch and the electronics out of their hands. Let’s get moving!

Harbor Hills is offering a summer Junior Get Fit Camp specifically for racquet sports. Expert instruction will be given for both tennis and pickleball. Campers play for exercise, fresh air, some competition but mostly fun.

John Natolly, USPTA Elite Professional, is Director of Racquet Sports at Harbor Hills. John reminds us that we have a generation of children living a sedentary lifestyle even before the impact of the pandemic. “Racquet sports promote an active lifestyle and always rate high by the experts for health benefits,” he explains.

Parents and grandparents can choose from two summer sessions. They run from July 13th – July 17th or July 20th – July 24th. Children are grouped by age from four to seventeen. For safety reasons, the number of players will be limited.

The Harbor Hills tennis facility is well-known in the state and beyond. As the premier tennis facility in the area, USTA league play, tournaments and charity events frequently take place in Harbor Hills. Harbor Hills generously provides the home court for the Leesburg High School tennis team cost-free.

John is extending a special invitation to Villagers, their children and grandchildren to come out and play. Discounts on private junior lessons are also available. All safety precautions are in effect. Call John at the Harbor Hills Racquets Pro Shop at 352-753-9376 or email jnatolly@harborhills.com.




Harbor Hills will raise the flag and celebrate the 4th of July with a golf outing and an all-American cookout. Independence Day brings to mind something we seniors know all too well: freedom is not free. We remain profoundly grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Neighbor Steve Hritz served in the USAF for 30 years. During the Vietnam War, Steve flew C-130 Hercules transports out of Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He later flew tactical airlift C-130’s and was an exchange pilot for the RAF. Other assignments included command of the 375th Flying Training Squadron at Scott AFB. Steve retired with the rank of colonel. The 30 year military career of friend John E. Bircher III, COL, USA (Ret.) included intelligence officer and Middle East foreign area specialist. John served in Vietnam with Special Forces where he was awarded the Purple Heart.

No reference to Harbor Hills veterans is complete without mention of two beloved veterans who have passed away. The WWII service of Brig. Gen. Bill Wilcox, USAF included command positions in Europe, North Africa and China. Wilcox flew 75 combat missions, logging more than 4,400 flying hours. His Distinguished Flying Cross was one of many medals. He is greatly missed by our community. Bill McKillop flew planes in Korea as a member of the USMC Aviation. As the Korean War came to a close, he served as both a squadron pilot and air controller. McKillop left active duty in 1955. As a commercial pilot, he flew for Pan American and United for 41 years.

The Harbor Hills Garden & Women’s Club sells engraved bricks to pay tribute to veterans, past and present. The bricks surround our Veteran’s Memorial Park. Contact Club President Shirle Mabie at shirlemabie@gmail.com to honor your veteran.


Yesterday was a Father’s Day like none other. Conforming to social distancing rules, our best wishes were shared by phone, Facetime and Zoom. The unusual circumstances, however, did not dim the love we have for the dads in our lives.

They are the coaches,  chauffeurs, caretakers, providers, protectors and spiritual guides. They are our fathers and grandfathers and their influence is profound. To their sons, they set the example and start them on Life’s path. To their daughters, dads are their first love and a frequent predictor of their future choices in Life.

To the stepfathers who stepped up when no one else was around, to the dads who are raising kids alone, we appreciate you. To the grandfathers and father figures who set us on a positive, caring, productive path, we appreciate you. Harbor Hills Country Club celebrated with a special Sunday brunch featuring all of Dad’s favorites.

For children in foster care, Guardians ad Litem perform a special service. Through the advocacy of these trained volunteers, the best interests of children are represented during dependency court proceedings. The program is state-mandated and prohibited from fundraising. To fill this gap, our local organization Voices For Children steps in. The organization creates special events such as the annual auction and dinner. All funds raised benefit 2,300 children in our local counties removed by the state for their protection. Coronavirus concerns caused the cancellation of upcoming fundraisers. Compassion and help are needed now more than ever. Visit www.voices4childrenfl.org or contact Sue Carpenter, Chairperson at 352-489-7112 for more information.

Deserving Dads are remembered with love and affection on Father’s Day and every day.


Summer Time

Like the fireflies we used to catch as children, summertime in Harbor Hills is buzzing with activity. “Head to the Hills” any Sunday to enjoy our always-popular Sunday brunch from 11AM to 2PM. Dine on an array of delicious brunch items while enjoying the spectacular view of our Signature 10th hole. The public is welcome. For reservations, call 352-753-7000.

Ready for some Fun in the Sun? Every Sunday in June, club members are treated to Family Funday. Menu specials are featured weekly. This Sunday, meatball sliders are on the menu. Meet me and other members at the pool for games and summer fun!!

Our Signature Grille is open seven days a week for eat-in or take out. The breakfast menu is delicious! Try the Par 3 for starters. Wednesday and Friday are member dining nights, always with exceptional menus. To-go is available.

Our championship golf course is picturesque and in great shape. The public is welcome to enjoy a challenging round at Harbor Hills. Tom Leimberger, PGA Professional, offers clinics, video lessons and more to improve your game at all levels.

Racquet sports are in full swing on our Har-Tru soft courts. Harbor Hills is one of the few country clubs to offer racquet sports on the soft, comfortable Har-Tru playing surface. Enjoy easy and fun activities for beginners or advanced players. Call John Natolly, USPTA Elite Professional at 352-753-9376 for more information.

Low impact and water aerobics, Mahjongg, Shanghai and many social group activities fill our summer days. Are you curious about membership? A summer membership from June through September is available at a special preview rate. For more information, contact Christy Rich, Membership Director, at 352-753-7000.

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