Keeping up with the Joneses
Bill and Judy Jones are humbled and honored by the fact that they’ve been chosen as this year’s Hammond Heartland Days grand marshals for the Grand Parade Sunday, Aug. 10. In fact, Judy admitted she cried when asked by Hammond Lions member Chuck Fedie.
“We feel so unworthy, but we are very honored,” Judy said with a smile. “It will be a fun weekend. Well, it always is. Even the area garage sales are more of a social event.”
Bill and Judy are familiar faces in the village that touts itself as “the Heart of St. Croix County.” They embody the slogan in all the ways they have been a part of the community, though they themselves may not see it that way. They prefer to praise others in town, and credit Hammond’s friendly residents as the reason they chose to retire there.
“By all means, it’s the people, and all those that volunteer,” Judy said. “The Hammond Golf Club, the firemen, the Lions and what they do at Christmas. Everyone you see on the street. I’m lucky I’ve gotten to know everyone. It’s always going to be home.”
Bill and Judy have lived in Hammond for 46 years, or all of their married life, as Judy said. Bill graduated from St. Croix Central High School. Judy hails from just down the road in Baldwin-Woodville. They raised their two sons, Michael and Jeffrey, in Hammond and were active in the St. Croix Central wrestling program. In fact, they consider SCC wrestling coach Brad Holzer a third son. He spent a lot of time with their sons growing up.
“It was such a crazy, fun time,” Judy laughed as she recalled the ups and downs of the boys having to make wrestling weights.
Bill worked for Ford Motor Company in St. Paul for 32 years. He’s quick to add that though they’ve been active in the community for many years, they have stepped back a bit. The couple winters in Apache Junction, Ariz.
“I’m a 40-year member of the American Legion (Deneen McCabe Post 432) and I was Commander for more than 20 years,” Bill said.
He also served as a firefighter for the Hammond Fire Department (which later merged with United Fire & Rescue) for 29 years. He was on the village board for 16-18 years in the 1970s and 1990s. And added to all that, he was a Hammond Lions Club member and head of the Hammond EMT unit, Judy said.
“You know, you’re busy raising kids and working,” Bill said. “You hope you do enough. You don’t look at yourself as deserving (of the grand marshal honor).”
Judy served as postmaster in Hammond for 27 years when she and Bill bought the post office from Jack Ross. She retired in 2005 when they sold the building. She fondly remembers working with the late Kathy Guski, who served as a clerk.
“We had so much fun in the post office,” Judy said. “Back in the day it was the meeting place in Hammond, especially for the older folk. The old gents would tease us mercilessly, and wave to us through the boxes. They called us the ‘powderpuff post office’ because for a while, it was all women working there. The people were so special and nice. I miss seeing all the people in town.”
Judy has also been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for 37 years, and serves as treasurer. She and Bill attend Trinity Lutheran Church in Hammond.
Their son, Michael, lives in River Falls and works at Loparex. Jeffrey is an attorney in Minneapolis. Both their faces light up when they speak of their “beautiful sweetheart,” 10-year-old granddaughter Sadie. They also have “four granddogs,” who they babysit often.
The active couple enjoys golfing, spending time with their family and friends, following SCC wrestling when not in Arizona, volunteering at community events like the Hammond Police Department’s National Night Out and visiting the sites near their winter home in Arizona.
“We actually sold our lake home and decided to retire in Hammond,” Bill said. “We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. We are blessed and living a good and happy life. We are so grateful to the Lions.”
The grand marshals are selected by the Hammond Heartland Days Committee, who chooses people active in the community, whether it be owning a business, volunteering or serving organizations, committee member Linda Hawkins said.