■ BY SUE ERWIN – Kathy Cross has been working as a cashier at Hudson’s Grocery store on Park Avenue for the past year. She says it’s the best job she has ever had. Originally from Bel Aire, Maryland, Kathy relocated to Rotonda Lakes two years ago.
“I decided to move here when my son, Tyler, went off to college at Virginia Tech,” Kathy said. “I’ve always wanted to live here. I had a friend whose parents had a home in Port Charlotte. We both had small chi
ldren and we would visit and stay with them in the home. Her parents worked at Kappy’s and that’s when I fell in love with this area when I first saw it. I knew when the time was right and my kids were out of school that this is where I was going to live.”
And that’s exactly what she did.
As soon as her son was packed up and ready to move to school, she quit her job as a phlebotomist and decided she was ready to move on to the next phase in her life.
“I have done many different things throughout my career and I decided that when I moved to this area, I would do something that is very low key and with no stress,” she said. And she found that passion working at Hudson’s. “I get to meet people who are happy all day long and meet local people who I get to see every day. People in Boca Grande are very happy. It’s like a whole different world.”
When Kathy first moved to Florida, she worked as a waitress at Flounder’s in Englewood.
Shortly after that, her mother got sick and she moved back home to Maryland for a few months to be her caregiver until she passed away.
When she returned to her home in Rotonda Lakes, she decided to look for a job that would suit her best.
Her neighbor, Dianne, is also a cashier at Hudson’s. Dianne mentioned that there was an opening at the store for another cashier.
“I realized how hard it is to get a job in Boca Grande so I jumped at the opportunity. And they are (Hudson’s owners) the most wonderful people to work for, it’s like working with family – everyone is so nice. I was blessed that Dianne happened to be my neighbor and told me about the job,” Kathy said.
Kathy said her present life is so different than her life when she lived in Maryland.
“I was always taking care of somebody, my kids or my mom, and now I just feel free – I love my life here,” she said.
Kathy said she adores the island of Boca Grande and loves her job. Especially off-season when she gets to see the same friendly faces come into the store every day for lunch.
“It’s the coolest little job, it really is, I am completely happy here. It’s a very special place. I have never seen a community like this where people stop to talk to each other every day, and where almost everybody knows everybody. People are like family to one another here – I think that is so adorable.”
She admits she was in shock when she first came into the store and saw the older cash registers. And she was also a bit surprised when she saw people shopping without purses or wallets.
“Many of the island residents have house accounts and so we often don’t even deal with cash,” she said.
Kathy also has a daughter, Jordyn, who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. The couple just recently married in June. Tyler is in his senior year at Virginia Tech and has one semester left to go. He is studying to be a civil engineer. “He is one smart cookie, he is doing very well,” Kathy said with a proud smile when referring to her son. “He loves his life there and is actually sad to be graduating. He is involved in a fraternity and is really enjoying the college years.”
Kathy said Tyler and Jordyn visit her every year for Christmas. “They come down the week before Christmas because of course in any retail business, you can’t take time off during the holidays,” she said. “At season, there is a line to the back of the store all day long – it’s just totally packed. It can get exhausting but it also makes the day go by really fast.”
Kathy said she is looking forward to seeing her daughter and son-in-law at Christmas and she is looking forward to spending a couple of weeks with her son while he is on break from school.
“He gets almost the entire month of January off so he will spend two weeks down here and then go back up to spend some time with his friends,” she said.
Jordyn comes down to visit Kathy several times each year. “She likes to come for long weekends. She was just here last month and she’ll be down next month for her birthday,” she said.
As a single mother of a two-year-old and a five-year-old in Maryland, Kathy did daycare for 13 years out of her home. “I wanted to be with my kids after my divorce so I decided to do that for a while,” she said. Then she went on to get her EKG certification, which led her to a career in the medical field. From there, she received a certification in phlebotomy and did that for many years.
“I enjoyed working in the medical field, but I really wanted to do something different that is low key and that didn’t come with any stress,” she said.
When she is not working, Kathy’s main hobby is reading. “I love to read, I’m a big fan of the library. My brother Jeff thinks I am the biggest nerd in the world.” Kathy said. Kathy said she also likes to cook and bake. And of course, she takes time every day to enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean and do a little shelling while walking on the beach.
“I thank God every morning I drive over that bridge on my way to work. I look at the water every day and know how blessed I am.”
Kathy said while she doesn’t watch very much television, there is one show that lifts her spirits. “I love the show ‘New Girl’ – whenever I am in a foul mood that show makes me laugh out loud – I am hooked on it.”
Kathy said the person she admires the most is her brother, Jeff Dean. Jeff suffered a very serious motorcycle accident when he was 18-years-old. The accident left him with life-altering injuries. And yet, Kathy describes Jeff as the most positive, funniest person she knows. “He is never negative – ever. And I envy that. He is the funniest, most positive guy; he’s just an amazing person. He never acts like a miserable person, although he has every right to be. He seriously finds the joy in everything. I admire him so much,” Kathy said.